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" They know the Almighty's love, 
Who, when the whirlwinds rock the topmost grove, 
Stand in the shade and hear the tumult, — 
Curb'd by some power unseen, fast die away." 








. NOV '^78 



STIRLING : J. MACFARLANE, DrummoncCs Tract Depot. 


1-^} . J- 4'^ 2. 


Introductory Essay 

Chapter I. 
The Text opened and divided. What the Reed is, and 
what the bruising . . . * . 

Chapter II. 
Those that Christ hath to do withal are bruised 

Chapter III. 
Christ will not break the Bruised Reed .... 

Chapter IV. 
Signs of one truly bruised. Means and measure of bruis' 
ing, and comfort to such 



Chapter V. 

Grace is little at first 

Chapter VI. 
Grace is mingled with Corruption .... 

Chapter VII. 
Christ will not quench small and weak beginnings 

Chapter VIII. 
Tenderness required in Ministers toward young Beginners 

Chapter IX. 
Governors should be tender of weak ones, and also private 








Biographical; — Puritan Doctrine Calvinistic; — The Gospel has 

ING AND Instruction; — Noah's Experience — Illustrations; — 
Relief from the Great Burden, Sin, makes Smaller Burdens 
Light ;— Job. 

Dr. Richard Sibbes, the author of the Treatise to 
which tiie following Notice is introductory, was one of 
the most celebrated of the Puritans of the seventeenth 
century. Though his life was not a protracted one, 
for he died in his fifty-eighth year, yet in his time he 
accomplished important work as an expounder of 
Divine truth, as an earnest advocate of sound doctrine, 
and an eloquent preacher of the glorious Gospel of the 
blessed God. 

Dr. Sibbes was of humble parentage. His father was 
a wheelwright, in the town of Tostock, in Suffolk, where 
our author was bom, a.d. 1597. No higher destiny 
for his son was thought of by the father than that he 
should follow his profession, and be his successor in 
the business which he had formed. The preliminary 
education deemed necessary to qualify him for this 
brought to light the natural genius inherent in the 
boy. He became eminent at school — ^the Free School 
of Bury St. Edmunds — ^so much so as to attract the 
attention of a dignitary of the Church. By the influ- 
ence of this generous man, the position of an under- 
sizar of St John's College, Cambridge, was acquired 


Introductory Essay. 

for young Sibbes. The presentation entitled him to 
a sort of public, pauper, College education. Of the 
Institution in question, there are, or there were, three 
grades — the sizar^ the under-sizar, and the poor 
scholar. The medium class was that of Sibbes. The 
lowest class was that of Jeremy Taylor — his con- 
temporary — ^who, in after life, became one of the most 
illustrious of the men of his day. To be a student at 
Cambridge in any grade was much a privilege. It 
opened the way to preferment ; and, where talent 
existed and was drawn forth, to eminence and use- 
fulness in life. Thus the intended wheelwright of 
Tostock was introduced to a line of progress by which 
he advanced to the great distinction in the world of 
literature and theology which he ultimately attained. 
In no long time, such was the estimate formed of his 
character, he was elected College preacher. Soon 
thereafter, by the grace of God, he became a savingly 
converted man. To this fact strong testimony is 
borne by those who were acquainted with the circum- 
stances which marked the event, though he is himself 
silent on the subject. Other appointments followed 
that of College preacher, under circumstances which 
gave evidence of the high esteem in which he was 
held, not only by the cultivated classes in Cambridge, 
but also by the country population in the neighbour- 
hood of the city. Laud, however, had his eye — ^no 
friendly eye — set on the rising youthful evangelist. 
Jeremy Taylor had secured the Archbishop's favour 
&nd patronage. Sibbes had not. So, whilst the for- 
mer was advanced by the semi -Popish pretender to 
Protestant orthodoxy, the latter was deprived — was 

Introductory Essay. iii 

driven from his Cambridge lectureship, as well as 
from other appointments. 

In this emergency, the interference of an influential 
and, at the time well-known friend and patron of godly 
ministers — such as the good Lord of the kingdom has, 
in all times of trial in His Church, raised up — ^procured 
for our author the preachership of Gray's Inn, London, 
an appointment more important than that of which he 
had been deprived Thus, that in which Laud had 
thought evil against him, God meant unto good : 
it fell out for " the furtherance of the gospel." This 
appointment he retained for life ; whilst also, at a sub- 
sequent period, he was restored to his Cambridge 
office, and so held both charges. 
. As the officiating minister of Gray's Inn, Sibbes came 
to be associated with many persons of high rank, as 
well as of literary distinction. His was a time when 
great names, not a few, graced the social circles of the 
metropolis, names which have descended to our times, 
and which will be transmitted to coming generations. 
Deeply interesting it is to reflect that the advantage of 
such Gospel preaching — ^searching, faithful, earnest — as 
that of Sibbes, was enjoyed by men like Lord Bacon, 
Cromwell, and Shakespeare. Even Milton may some- 
times, in early youth, have listened to this popular Cal- 
vinistic Puritan, pouring forth. Sabbath after Sabbath, 
in such strains of heavenly thought as are exemplified 
in the treatise before us, the counsel of God for man's 
salvation. Whatever the case may be as to Milton, 
when one happens to read simultaneously in the 
writings of Lord Chancellor Bacon, and in the writings 
of Richard Sibbes, he cannot fail occasionally to 


Introductory Essay. 

imagine that the one has been borrowing from the 
other — ^which from which it may be difficult to decide — 
though the probability is felt to be that the philosopher 
is more debtor to the divine than the divine to the philo- 
sopher. It is not impossible that the fall of the latter 
from his political eminence — his banishment, until near 
the close of his life, into the shade of court disfavour and 
comparative obscurity, touching which we may believe 
the ex-Chancellor and his minister held not infrequent 
friendly converse — led to the production of the treatise 
to which the reader is in these pages introduced, and 
inspired the genius of the author, so manifest in all its 
parts. A "bruised reed" the great Chancellor did, 
with reference to his humiliating change of condition, 
denominate himself; and thus it may be no unwarrant- 
able assumption that to Sibbes' sympathy with a 
broken-hearted man and to his pity for him we owe 
the sweet words of consolation and encouragement 
with which this treatise abounds. Not that such 
influence as we refer to explains all. Bacon may 
have been much on Sibbes' heart as he preached his 
discourses ; but the case of all whom God teaches in 
the school of affliction, and whom in every age He so 
prepares for Himself — for His service now, and for 
glory hereafter — ^must have been much more so. Our 
author's own heavy trial, too, by his second and latest 
deprivation, shared in common with so many of his 
brethren, under the pressure of which some of them 
were compelled, for their personal safety, to flee their 
country, must have had its effect on his sensitive 
mind. Private influence, originating in the high value 
set on his ministrations and the earnest desire to re- 

Introductory Essay, 

tain these, availed to preserve him from the pressure 
of the necessity which compelled the painful course 
adopted by his friends. Sibbes consequently con- 
tinued, until the close of his life, to discharge the 
duties of Preacher in Gray's Inn — tolerated, and 
no more than tolerated, by those who frowned updn 
him, but honoured by those who delighted in his 

Sibbes was an advocate, in his time, of what men 
call Calvinism. He, no doubt, studied the writings 
of the great Reformer. In his time these must 
have been comparatively recent publications, making 
it possible that he was not greatly conversant with 
them. However that may be, we are quite war- 
ranted to believe that the source from which Calvin 
drew his stores of Divine knowledge was that from 
which Sibbes procured, in like manner, his treasures. 
Both were equally debtors to the same inspired Record, 
and to the same " unction from the Holy One," by 
which they were made to know all things. It is the 
fruit of a groundless fancy to ascribe to Calvin the 
origin of the doctrines to which his name has been 
attached. This is done by those who delight to im- 
pugn the doctrines, because they dislike them. It is 
easier, and safer for their reputation, to condemn 
Calvin than to condemn inspired Paul. 

In the ages which preceded Calvin, as in the cen- 
turies which have followed his time, the doctrines in 
question, in every line of them, have been embraced 
and maintained by all true students of Holy Writ. 
Thousands who have never had opportunities to be 
taught Calvinistic doctrine, who have never read a 


Introductory Essay. 

sentence of his, but who, under conviction of sin, 
and alarms of conscience, earnestly searching for 
relief and comfort, have been led to the one fountain 
of the knowledge necessary to salvation, have thence 
been enlightened, and so learned the same truths. 
When they subsequently, as in some instances has hap- 
pened, became acquainted with the dogmatic teachings 
of the great theological master, they have been filled 
with wonder to find that, by their own investigations, 
they had anticipated his teaching, as well as the teach- 
ings of all other human authorities, having been made 
wise from above. 

Whatever may be said of the literary acquirements 
of our author, and the process through which he be- 
came so great a master in that department, we may 
safely conclude that the theological acquirements, 
which so eminently qualified him for the sacred work 
of the pulpit, were mainly derived direct from the 
Scriptures of truth, under the effectual saving applica- 
tion of the Spirit of truth. 

The Gospel, as to its distinctive virtue, has always 
been the same. Therein we have the answer of the 
Father in heaven to the cry of the awakened soul — 
the soul enlightened through the knowledge of the truth, 
and brought face to face with the awfully solemn 
realities of its relations to Him, the Most High. 
Slumber, a death-like slumber as to those realities, 
is the normal condition of all of us. In the case of 
those who are ultimately saved, a time comes when 
the slumber is broken — broken it may be as by the 
crash of a thunder peal, or as by the loving touch 

Introductory Essay. 


of a friendly hand — but broken it is, and compelled 
to yield to convictions never known before. In 
vain shall any man attempt satisfactorily to describe 
the change of mind which ensues to those who have 
not themselves experienced this change. We do not 
refer to temporary agitations and disturbances, pro- 
duced by short-lived convictions and alarms arising 
from various causes, of which there are too many 
examples. We refer to convictions which are pro- 
duced by the life-giving influences of the quickening 
Spirit ; as different from the other as the action con- 
nected with the returned consciousness of a half- 
drowned man, in whom there is life, is different from 
the action imparted to a dead carcase by the applica- 
tion of the power which issues from the galvanic 
battery. The one is permanent, and ends in life ; the 
other is evanescent, done at the will of the operator, 
and ends in the condition of death from which there 
had really been no deliverance. 

God's message comes to the soul. It is a mes- 
sage, first of warning, then of instruction. The veil 
is lifted off the future, our own personal future; 
the ruinous delusions of a worldly life are dis- 
pelled; the responsibilities as to the world unseen 
are disclosed ; danger of " everlasting destruction from 
the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His 
power," is so set before our eyes that we cannot 
banish the sight. It is as when the manslayer who, 
^but a moment ago, lived in the happiness of con- 
scious innocence, unexpectedly sees on his hands the 
blood of his neighbour — sees that he has become 
amenable to the behests of the avenging law which 


Introductory Essay. 

requires that he who sheddeth man's blood, by man 
shall his blood be shed. As that offender's peaceful 
security has vanished, as his quietude has disappeared, 
as the demand fo^ instant flight presses itself on his con- 
sideration and produces the necessary immediate race 
for life, so it is in the case of the savingly awakened 
sinner. He is "lost;" and he now knows it What 
is he to do ? whither is he to look ? In what refuge, 
if in any, is he to find shelter ? The Gospel provides 
the answer. Thence the answer comes, and thence 
only : — ^thence only, with effect, when the awakening 
is genuine ; when the Spirit of God, in pursuance of the 
gracious Divine purpose, has produced it \ and when 
the fruits in the inner man are such as His power alone 
can produce. When He "kills," He must "make 
alive;" when He "wounds," He must "heal;" for 
there is none "that can deliver out of His hand." 
" He maketh sore and bindeth up ; He woundeth and 
His hands make whole." 

To Noah, God sent His message, with a view to the 
patriarch's salvation. "The end of all flesh," the 
Lord said, "has come before me; for the earth is 
filled with violence through them ; and, behold, I will 
destroy them with the earth." Noah was "moved" — 
awakened to such a sense of danger as he had never 
known. More or less, he must previously have been 
affected by his painful associations with the world in 
which he lived — associations which he could not avoids 
and from which he could not escape. However he may 
have been "vexed" with these, never had he been 
" moved " — " moved with fear " — cast into a condition 
of awakened alarm, such as he now experienced. The 

coining calamity which had been revealed was not to 
occur immediately. It was future — comparatively dis- 
tant. Moreover, it was "unseen as yet :" no portent, 
no terrifying signals of approaching doom, no " sign " 
occurred to sadden the heart. But Noah's faith made 
XhQ future, though thus qualified, an iraxamtnt present; 
and his soul panted for the instruction by which he 
might obtain relief and peace. God*s message included 
that He who knew the full import of the warning 
which had produced agitation in the mind of Noah, 
knew also what only could truthfully meet the emer- 
gency, and be a reliable ground of comfort. " Make 
thee an Ark " was the instruction : " Make thee an 
Ark !" — including, withal, stringent directions as to 
its structure, its dimensions, its character in all 

By faith, we are distinctly informed, the change — 
the conversion — in the case of Noah was produced. 
By faith he accepted God's message in both its parts. 
By faith he was obedient to the heavenly call.* By 
faith he became " heir of the righteousness which is 
by faith;" and so, by that which is "the substance 
of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen," 
he, with others, whom the sacred Record enumerates, 
" obtained a good report." 

Sinners, wherever the Gospel message comes, are 
warned of impending wrath — ^the wrath of God which 
is " revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and 
unrighteousness of men " — against sin, against all sin 
— sin whether in Jew or in Gentile, "for there is 
no difference : " — necessarily so revealed, that God's 
righteous government may be vindicated and upheld, 

Introductory Essay. 

that His Majesty may not be despised : — revealed in 
view, not only of present conditions, but in view, as 
well, of the conditions of His moral universe " in the 
ages to come." 

To be savingly taught of the Spirit produces con- 
viction. The soul fears; the soul is "moved" with 
fear ; it trembles at God's Word. This is undoubtedly 
due to the truth. The case must be bad indeed with 
any man, who enjoys? Gospel privileges, by whom this 
is not felt. Under conviction of the truth referring 
to God's law and its claims, the cry must become — 
"What shall I do?"— "What shall I do to be saved?" 

The Qospel, as we have said, is provided for the 
emergency which has this issue. The message of 
warning never comes apart from the message of in- 
struction. The instruction comes from Him who 
knows the case, who knows all that is included therein. 
"Behold the Lamb of God:" "Believe in the Lord 
Jesus Christ," is the authoritative instruction — ^instruc- 
tion which makes known to the awakened, believing, 
soul how God's righteousness is now revealed — now 
revealed, not in the destruction of the sinner whom 
the law condemns, but in his salvation, on the ground 
of the glorious "propitiation": — revealed in the remis- 
sion of sin, in the justification of the sinner's person 
— of the sinner accepting the truth, and casting himself 
on the faithfulness of God in Christ Jesus. 

No evidence in proof of the truth referring to the 
coming deluge was given to Noah beyond the clear 
simple testimony of the Divine revelation. God had 
spoken it : that was all ; and that was enough. 
Nothing in the heavens or on the earth came to 

Introditctory Essay. ^ xi 

corroborate the Word. All nature, and nature in 
every form, was silent. No doubt men, scoffing, were 
found often to say, "Where is the promise of His 
coming?" It mattered not. The thing was true. 
God had spoken. Noah did not speculate, nor make, 
enquiry beyond this. The Word of the Lord had come, 
and all with him was believing. 

The whole action of his life, from this time forth, 
was produced by his belief. Such industry as he 
required to use to secure the means of subsistence for 
himself and his family, he, no doubt, employed. But 
the paramount object of his life had become that which 
the Word of the Lord demanded ; on the authority of 
which, and under the convictions produced by which, 
he proceeded in all he did ; becoming a preacher of 
the righteousness which is by faith, Christ speaking 
by him to the world ; building the Ark, and, in doing 
so, condemning the world which either disregarded, 
derided, or resisted. His faith had this as its 
special fruit As to his action with reference to the 
"meat which perisheth," being necessary, he must 
have given himself to it ; but that action was subor- 
dinate to the other ; was pursued only that he might 
meet the claims of the other, and so at length finish 
his course with joy. 

Whilst Noah simply obeyed the Word which had been 
addressed to faith in him; whilst he had conscientious 
respect to the Divine method, in every line thereof, 
appointed for his salvation in view of the coming 
destruction, in nothing thinking his own thoughts, 
nor adopting the thoughts of others, as to this method 
— he must have had, at the same time, an intelligent 


Introdtictory Essay. 

sense of the suitableness, the competency, and the 
adequacy of God's plan. He knew that the deliver- 
ance was to be a deliverance from a flood. The 
method of his coming escape had respect to the form 
in which the great overthrow was to occur, of which 
he must have had some intelligent apprehension. 
What was required was not a method of escape from 
war, or from famine, or from pestilence. Had it 
been either of these, the building of an ark would 
have been a vain conceit — foolishness. He knew 
that by a flood, which should cover the face of the 
whole earth, judgment was to be inflicted His 
apprehension of the nature and full extent of this 
calamity may have been very inadequate. It was 
enough that he was convinced that God knew all, and 
that the means of deliverance, being of Him, must 
be adequate, competent, and must prove sufficient. 

We know not what may be included in the " wrath 
revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness '* 
of ours. "Who knoweth the power of His anger?" 
There may be involved an infinity of evil, which our 
minds are incapable even of conceiving. The only 
standard by which the evil may be measured is the 
vicarious sufferings of the Son 'of God in His 
humanity, and as substituted in our stead — the 
humiliation; the agony of body and soul which he 
endured ! But who — ^angel or man — is capable, of 
comprehending what that suffering included; that 
which is the only measure of the evil of sin ? And 
who will venture to say that that suffering was more 
than was meet ? Who will aver that less might have 
sufficed; that God was cruel, rigorous^ or unjust to 

Introductory Essay. 


the Saviour ? Who will presume to persuade himself 
that God will mete out to the sinner less than he 
sent upon the Substitute — to the sinner refusing, or 
neglecting, or contemning the great Sacrifice ? 

Who can tell what is required that there may be for- 
giveness of sin in the case of transgressors such as we ? 
Who can tell what is required that there may be satis- 
factory reason why the Most High, without injury to 
the glory of His character or the sacred rights of His 
Eternal Son, may accept the person and the services 
of the sinner ; bestow on him the adoption of a son ; 
the spirit of a son ; the heirship and the inheritance 
of a son ; and the full qualification for glory, with the 
crown of glory in the end ? God Himself only can 
telL As He only could instruct Noah to provide 
satisfactorily for the calamity that was " not seen as 
yet," but was sure as to its advent, so He only can tell 
what shall be sufficient to meet all the necessities of 
our case — ^the case of each of us — our necessities, in 
presence of temptations with which we are assailed ; 
the inherent corruption which gives to temptations the 
power they so fatally exercise; the influence which, 
not only the Prince of this World, but .the world itself, 
exerts ; the terrors of disease and of death ; the in- 
comprehensibly solemn awards of the great judgment? 
God only knows what is before us, what awaits each 
of us ! God only, therefore, knows the provision 
required, the salvation which, if it be not ours, we are 
lost His decision, therefore, in all this must be final 
and without appeal. No folly can equal the folly of, 
in such a matter, setting up our judgment as against, 
or in arrest of, His, No folly can equal the folly of 


Introductory Essay. 

men who wantonly attempt to minimise the evil of 
sin on the one hand, and the claims of law and justice 
on the other ; comforting themselves with the worship 
of a God who is not the God of the Scripture ; acting 
so, not on the principle of Noah when he believed 
God and built the ark, but on the principle of the 
spirits who are now in " prison," and who, in Noah's 
time, acted as in our time their successors act, when 
they yield themselves to persuasions that have no 
foundation but in the deceived heart which has turned 
them aside. 

He is a faithful minister of Christ who proclaims 
these things. Such a minister was Noah. He is also 
an accepted minister who * proclaims these things — 
accepted of those who have been awakened of God, 
who have been quickened, and who are crying out to 
be told of the way of life. Nothing can give relief, 
can give peace that may be trusted, but the full and 
faithful exhibition of the glorious truth of Christ's 
substitution; of the great atonement; and of the 
all-prevailing intercession at the right hand of God. — 
A minister of such truth was Sibbes throughout all 
his course. * 

When the Gospel has been made effectual for our 
recovery in the matter of our great loss ; effectual for 
bringing us home to our Father's house ; effectual for 
making us partakers of the rich provision to be found 
there and there only, it is easy to see how the same 
Gospel must become the healing element in every lesser 
affliction which may befal us in our new condition* 
These afflictions are not few; neither are they uni- 


Imtrodjut^ary Essay. 


foim mdiazactErziiardD Aey £1 cxnc from the same 
somce. Hoveicr aH tioc ao^ be, the Go^id pn>- 
daims the lemedy for al], hafirTirh as the G<Kpd 
ever sends the sod to Ctrryr, the good Phjsaciaii. 
When we go to Hbxr, the s^kdoos are 

M%«»l^» •«» 

to be li^^; fiar a momfnt; vtrkisg oct an demal 
wQ^A of ^kxT. The loed vrich esevii^e fTTTrred^ 
in the band of bhn vb3 p^ared veiH oa bis instm- 
ment, its sweet sounds ^^oar be ^Droasedz* its 
soonds mar nerer be beard again. Hope tha 
shall ever be mar bare all bet perished- Bet He 
in vhom wc 
thing. He viH restore ii : and jet s^ain. His breath 
fining it, the zx^odf of joj and beaiih sbaD be heard 
therefinoBiy all the mcMe that the instniment has been 
restored bv the hand vr5ch at nrst made iL The fiax 

majbe redooed so that the evidence of ait mar be 
no moBC than the sndke wtjch ascends from it in 
flickenng waves. Caniirevive? Canitbereidackd? 

Yes; the breath of the Spent of Oaist viZ oocne. 
He hjmself wiZ come, not to qDench, bat to irjikc 
it bum a^ain, and to ^vt iosA die ^jendocr of its 
chfffffal hght- 

If oar great soirovbe c* j ed, aH lesrer sonovs viH 
rpftainly be SOL Let is betake omseires to Him vho 
is pledged to fn'rH in His people "the good p S e j stu e 

so bad bet that 

: Be 


the vases I v: 

Lorf! ■ 
be vidi 


Introductory Essay. 

the rivers, they shall not overflow thee : when thou 
walkest through the fire thou shalt not be burned; 
neither shall the flame kindle on thee. For I am the 
Lord thy God, the holy One of Israel, thy Saviour." 

" The heart knoweth his own bitterness." He who 
keeps the heart — ^to whom Israel are as the apple of 
the eye — knows it too. A calm, even a smiling, counte- 
nance may hide a heavy heart A " stranger" does not 
discover it He who will not break the bruised reed, 
nor quench the smoking flax, does. In Job's most 
prosperous days there was a weight on his heart Who 
knew it ? He did to whom Job's prayer, day and 
night, ascended in anxiety for his sons and daughters, 
lest th^y should forget God amidst their family happi- 
ness. Of his care he said, " I was not in safety, neither 
had I rest, neither was I quiet." Could worse be? 
Yes, "Yet trouble came:" he adds. "The thing 
which I greatly feared came." Was the bruised reed 
broken, then? Was the smoking flax quenched? 

" Ye have heard of the patience (suffering) of Job, 
and have seen the end of the Lord ; that the Lord 
is very pitiful, and of tender mercy." 

A. B. 

Edinburgh, May 1878. 


*' ^ htmsth rub akttlX he niit htt&K »itb £!mxrkittd f nx 
dhaU he ttot xpuitch, tiU lie £!tnb forth judgment un\o 
bictOTji" — Matt. xii. 20. 

Chap. I. — T/ie Text opened and divided. What the 
Reed is^ and what the bruising, 

THE prophet Isaiah being lifted up, and car- 
ried with the wing of prophetical spirit, 
passeth over all the time between him and the 
appearing of Jesus Christ in the flesh, and seeth 
with the eye of prophecy, and with the eye of 
faith, Christ as present, and presenteth him, in 
the name of God, to the spiritual eye of others, 
in these words: "Behold my servant whom I 
have chosen," etc., Isa. xliii. 10. Which place 
is alleged by St. Matthew as fulfilled now in 
Christ, Matt. xii. 18. Wherein is propounded — 

First, the calling of Christ to his office. 

Secondly, the execution of it. 


L For his cattingz God stykdi liMn here his 
righteous sefvanty etc; Christ was God s servant 
in the greatest piece of service that ever was ; 
a chos^i, and a choice servant: he did and 
suffered all by commission firom the Father: 
wherein we may see the sweet lo\'e of God to ns, 
that counts the work of our salvation by Christ 
his greatest service; and that he will put his 
only beloved Son to that service: He might 
well prefix Behold^ to raise up our thoughts to 
the highest pitch of attention and admiration. 
In time of temptation, misgiving consciences 
look so much to the present trouble they are in, 
that they need be roused up to behold him in 
whom th^ may find rest for their distressed 
souls. In temptations it is safest to behold 
nothing but Christ the true brazen Serpent, the 
true Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the 
worlds John L 291 This saving object hath a 
special influence of comfort into the soul, espe- 
cially if we look not only on Christ, but upon the 
Father^s authority and love in him. For in all 
that Christ did and suffered as Mediator, we 
must see God in him reconciling the world unto 
himself 2 Cor. v. 19, 

What a support to our fiuth is this, that God 
the Father, the party offended by our sins, is so 

and Smoking Flax. 

well pleased with the work of redemption ! And 
what a comfort is this, that seeing God's love 
resteth on Christ, as well pleased in him, we may 
gather that he is as well pleased with us, if we be 
in Christ ! For his love resteth in whole Christ, 
in Christ mystical as well as Christ natural, 
because he loveth him and us with one love. 
Let us, therefore, embrace Christ, and in him God's 
love, and build our faith safely on such a Saviour, 
that is furnished with so high a commission. 

See here, for our comfort, a sweet agreement 
of all three persons : the Father giveth a com- 
mission to Christ ; the Spirit fumisheth and 
sanctifieth to it ; Christ himself executeth the 
office of a Mediator. Our redemption is founded 
upon the joint agreement of all three persons of 
the Trinity. 

II. For the execution of this his calling, it is 
set down here to be modest, without making a 
noise, or raising dust by any pompous coming, as 
princes use to do. " His voice sliall not be lieardP 
His voice indeed was heard, but what voice? 
" Come unto me^ all ye tJiat are weary and Jieavy 
ladenl' Matt. xi. 28. He cried, but how ? " Ho, 
every one that thirsteth, cornel' etc., Isa. Iv. i. 
And as his coming was modest, so it was mild, 

The Bruised Reed 

which is set down in these words : The bruised 
reed shall he not break, etc. Wherein we may 
observe these three things : — 

Firsts The condition of those that Christ had 
to deal withal, (i.) They were bruised reeds ; 
(2.) smoking flax. 

Secondly^ Christ's carriage toward them. He 
brake not the bruised reed, nor quenched the 
smoking flax : where more is meant than spoken ; 
for he will not only not break the bruised reed, 
nor quench, etc., but he will cherish them. 

Thirdly^ The constancy and progress of this 
his tender care, ^^ until judgment come to victory " — 
that is, until the sanctified frame of grace begun 
in their hearts be brought to that perfection, that 
it prevaileth over all opposite corruption. 

I. For the firsts the condition of men whom 
he was to deal withal is, that they were bruised 


reeds, and smoking flax ; not trees, but reeds ; 
and not whole, but bruised reeds. The Church 
is compared to weak things ; to a dove amongst 
the fowls ; to a vine amongst the plants ; to sheep 
amongst the beasts ; to a woman, which is the 
weaker vessel : and here God's children are com- 
pared to bruised reeds and smoking flax. First, 
we will speak of them as they are bruised reeds, 
and then as smoking flax. 

and Smoking Flax. 

They are bruised reeds before their conversion, 
and oftentimes after : before conversion all (ex- 
cept such as being bred up in the church, God 
hath delighted to shew himself gracious unto 
from their childhood), yet in different degrees, 
as God seeth meet ; and as difference is in regard 
of temper, parts, manner of life, etc., so in God's 
intendment of employment for the time to come ; 
for usually he empties such of themselves, and 
makes them nothing, before he will use them in 
any great services. 

(i.) This bruised reed is a man that for the 
most part is in some misery, as those were that 
came to Christ for help, and (2.) by misery is 
brought to see sin the cause of it ; for whatsoever 
pretences sin maketh, yet bruising or breaking is 
the end of it ; (3.) he is sensible of sin and misery, 
even unto bruising ; and (4.) seeing no help in 
himself, is carried with restless desire to have 
supply from another, with some hope, which a 
little raiseth him out of himself to Christ, though 
he dareth not claim any present interest of 
mercy. This spark of hope being opposed by 
doubtings, and fears rising from corruption, 
maketh him as smoking flax ; so that both these 
together, a bruised reed and smoking flax, make 
up the state of a poor distressed man. Such an 

The Bruised Reed 

one as our Saviour Christ termeth poor in spirit, 
Matt. V. 3, who seeth a want, and withal seeth 
himself indebted to divine justice, and no means 
of supply from himself or the creature, and 
thereupon mourns, and upon some hope of mercy 
from the promise and examples of those that 
have obtained mercy, is stirred up to hunger and 
thirst after it. 

Chap. II. — Those that Christ hath to do withal are 


This bruising is required [i.] before conversion, 
(i.) that so the Spirit may make way for itself 
into the heart by levelling all proud, high 
thoughts, and that we may understand our- 
selves to be what indeed we are by nature. We 
love to wander from ourselves and to be strangers 
at home, till God bruiseth us by one cross or 
other, and then we bethink our selves y and come 
home to ourselves with the prodigal, Luke xv. 17. 

A marvellous hard thing it is to bring a dull 
and a shifting heart to cry with feeling for mercy. 
Our hearts, like malefactors, until' they be beaten 
from all shifts, never cry for the mercy of the 
Judge. Again (2.) this bruising maketh us set a 
high price upon Christ. The gospel is the gospel 

and Smoking Flax. 

indeed then ; then the fig-leaves of morality will 
do us no good. And (3.) it maketh us more 
thankful, and (4.) from thankfulness more fruitful 
in our lives ; for what maketh many so cold and 
barren, but that bruising for sin never endeared 
God's grace unto them ? Likewise (5.) this deal- 
ing of God doth establish us the more in his 
ways, having had knocks and bruisings in our 
own ways. This is the cause oft of relapses and 
apostasies, because men never smarted for sin at 
the first ; they were not long enough under the 
lash of the law. Hence this inferior work of the 
Spirit, in bringing down high thoughts ^ 2 Cor. x. 5, 
is necessary before conversion. And, for the 
most part, the Holy Spirit, to further the work of 
conviction, joineth some affliction, which, sancti- 
fied, hath a healing and purging power. 

Nay, [2.] after conversion we need bruising, 
that (i.) reeds may know themselves to be reeds, 
and not oaks ; even reeds need bruising, by 
reason of the remainder of pride in our nature, 
and to let us see that we live by mercy. And 
(2.) that weaker Christians may not be too much 
discouraged when they see stronger shaken and 
bruised. Thus Peter was bruised when he wept 
bitterly. Matt. xxvi. 75. This reed, till he met 
with this bruise, had more wind in him than pith. 


The Bruised Reed 

" Though all forsake thee, I will not," etc.. Matt, 
xxvi. 35. The people of God cannot be without 
these examples. The heroical deeds of those great 
worthies do not comfort the church so much as 
their falls andbruises do. Thus David was bruised, 
Ps. xxxii. 3-5, until he came to a free confession, 
without guile of spirit ; nay, his sorrows did rise 
in his own feeling unto the exquisite pain of 
breaking of bones, Ps. li. 8. Thus Hezekiah 
complains that God had " broken his bones " as 
a lion, Isa. xxxvii. 13. Thus the chosen vessel 
St. Paul needed the messenger of Satan to buffet 
him, lest he should be lifted up above measure, 
2 Cor. xii. 7. 

Hence we learn that we must not pass too 
harsh judgment upon ourselves or others when 
God doth exercise us with bruising upon bruising ; 
there must be a conformity to our head, Christ, 
who " was bruised for us," Isa. liii. 5, that we may 
know how much we are bound unto him. Pro- 
fane spirits, ignorant of God's ways in bringing 
his children to heaven, censure broken-hearted 
Christians for desperate persons, whencis God is 
about a gracious good work with them. It is no 
easy matter to bring a man from nature to grace, 
and from grace to glory, so unyielding and 
untractable are our hearts. 

and Smoking Flax. 

Chap. III. — Christ will not break the Bruised Reed, 

2. The second point is, that Christ will not 
''break the bruised reed!' Physicians, though 
they put their patients to much pain, yet they 
will not destroy nature, but raise it up by degrees. 
Chirurgeons will lance and cut, but not dismem- 
ber. A mother that hath a sick and froward 
child will not therefore cast it away. And shall 
there be more mercy in the stream than in the 
spring ? Shall we think there is more mercy in 
ourselves than in God, who planteth the affection 
of mercy in us ? But for further declaration of 
Christ's mercy to all bruised reeds, consider the 
comfortable relations he hath taken upon him of 
husband, shepherd, brother, etc., which he will 
discharge to the utmost ; for shall others by his 
grace fulfil what he calleth them unto, and not 
he that, out of his love, hath taken upon him 
these relations, so thoroughly founded upon his 
Father's assignment, and his own voluntary 
undertaking? Consider his borrowed names 
from the mildest creatures, as lamb, hen, etc., to 
shew his tender care ; consider his very name, 
Jesus, a Saviour, given him by God himself; 
consider his office, answerable to his name, which 

lo The Bruised Reed 

IS that he should "heal the broken-hearted," 
Isa. Ixi. I. At his baptism the Holy Ghost sate 
on him in the shape of a dove, to shew that he 
should be a dove-like, gentle Mediator. See the 
gracious manner of executing his offices. As a 
prophet, he came with blessing in his mouth, 
" Blessed be the poor in spirit," etc., Matt. v. 3, 
and invited those to come to him, whose hearts 
suggested most exceptions against themselves, 
"Come unto me, all ye that are weary and 
heavy laden," Matt. xi. 28. How did his bowels 
yearn when " he saw the people as sheep without 
a shepherd !" Matt. ix. 36. He never turned any 
back again that came unto him, though some 
went away of themselves. He came to die as a 
priest for his enemies. In the days of his flesh 
he dictated a form of prayer unto his disciples, 
and put petitions unto God into their mouths, 
and his Spirit to intercede in their hearts ; and 
now makes intercession in heaven for weak 
Christians, standing between God's anger and 
them ; and shed tears for those that shed his 
blood. So he is a meek King ; he will admit 
mourners into his presence, a king of poor and 
afflicted persons : as he hath beams of majesty, 
so he hath bowels of mercies and compassion ; 
"A prince of peace," Isa. ix. 6. Why was he 

and Smoking Flax. ii 

"tempted," but "that he might succovir those 
that are tempted," Heb. ii. i8. What mercy 
may we not expect from so gracious a Mediator, 
I Tim. ii. 5, that took our nature upon him that 
he might be gracious. He is a physician good 
at all diseases, especially at the binding up of a 
broken heart ; he died that he might heal our 
souls with a plaster of his own blood, and by 
that death save us, which we were the procurers 
of ourselves, by our own sins ; and hath he not 
the same bowels in heaven ? " Saul, Saul, why 
persecutest thou me?" Acts ix. 4, cried the head 
in heaven, when the foot was trodden on, on 
earth. His advancement hath not made him 
forget his own flesh ; though it has freed him 
from passion, yet not from compassion towards 
us. The lion of the tribe of Judah will only tear 
in pieces those that " will not have him rule over 
them," Luke xix. 17. He will not shew his 
strength against those that prostrate themselves 
before him. 

Use I. What should we learn from hence, but 
" to come boldly to the throne of grace," Heb. iv. 
16, in all our grievances? Shall our sins dis- 
courage us, when he appears there only for 
sinners ? Art thou bruised ? Be of good com- 
fort, he calleth thee ; conceal not thy wounds, 


The Bruised Reed 

open all before him, keep not Satan's counsel. 
Go to Christ though trembling; as the poor 
woman, if we can but "touch the hem of his 
garment," Matt. ix. 20, we shall be healed and 
have a gracious answer. Go boldly to God in 
our flesh ; for this end that we niight go boldly 
to him, he is flesh of our flesh, and bone of our 
bone. . Never fear to go to God, since we have 
such a Mediator with him, that is not only our 
friend, but our brother and husband. Well 
might the angels proclaim from heaven, " Behold, 
we bring you tidings of joy," Luke ii. 10. Well 
might the apostle stir us up to " rejoice in the 
Lord again and again," Phil. iv. 4 : he was well 
advised upon what grounds he did it. Peace and 
joy are two main fruits of his kingdom. Let the 
world be as it will, if we cannot rejoice in the 
world, yet we may rejoice in the Lord. His 
presence maketh any condition comfortable. 
" Be not afraid," saith he to his disciples, when 
they were afraid, as if they had seen a ghost, 
" It is I," Matt. xiv. 27 ; as if there were no cause 
of fear where he is present. 

Use 2. Let this stay us when we feel ourselves 
bruised. Christ's course is first to wound, then 
to heal. No sound, whole soul shall ever enter 
into heaven. Think in temptation, Christ was 

and Smoking Flax. 


tempted for me ; according to my trials will be 
my graces and comforts. If Christ be so merci- 
ful as not to break me, I will not break myself 
by despair, nor yield myself over to the roaring 
lion Satan, to break me in pieces. 

Use, 3. Thirdly, See the contrary disposition 
of Christ, and Satan and his instruments. Satan 
setteth upon us when we are weakest, as Simeon 
and Levi upon the " Shechemites, when they 
were sore," Gen. xxxiv. 25 ; but Christ will make 
up in us all the breaches sin and Satan have 
made ; he " binds up the broken-hearted," Isa. 
Ixi. I. And as a mother tendereth most the 
most diseased and weakest child, so doth Christ 
most mercifully incline to the weakest, and like- 
wise putteth an instinct into the weakest things 
to rely upon something stronger than themselves 
for support. The vine stayeth itself upon the 
elm, and the weakest creatures have oft the 
strongest shelters. The consciousness of the 
Church's weakness makes her willing to lean 
on her beloved, and to hide herself under his 


The Bruised Reed 

Chap. IV. — Signs of one truly bruised. Means and 
measure of bruising^ and comfort to sucJu 

Objection, But how shall we know whether we 
are such as those that may expect mercy ? 

Answer i. By bruising here is not meant 
those that are brought low only by crosses, but 
such as by them are brought to see their sin, 
which bruiseth most of all. When conscience 
is under the guilt of sin, then every judgment 
brings a report of God's anger to the soul, and 
all less troubles run into this great trouble of 
conscience for sin. As all corrupt humours run 
to the diseased and bruised part of the body, and 
as every creditor falls upon the debtor when he 
is once arrested, so when conscience is once 
awaked, all former sins and present crosses join 
together to make the bruise the more painful. 
Now, he that is thus bruised will be content with 
nothing but with mercy from him that hath 
bruised him. " He hath wounded, and he must 
heal," Isa. Ixi. i.. Lord, thou hast bruised me 
deservedly for my sins, bind up my heart again, 
etc. 2. Again a man truly bruised, judgeth sin 
the greatest evil, and the favour of God the 
greatest good. 3. He had rather hear of mercy 

and Smoking Flax. 


than of a kingdom. 4. He hath mean conceits 
of himself, and thinketh he is not worth the earth 
he treads on. 5. Towards others he is not 
censorious, as being taken up at home, but is full 
of sympathy and compassion to those that are 
under God's hand. 6. He thinketh those that 
walk in the comforts of God's Spirit the happiest 
men of the world. 7. " He trembleth at the word 
of God," Isa. Ixvi. 2, and honoureth the very feet 
of those blessed instruments that bring peace 
unto him, Rom. x. 15. 8. He is more taken up 
with the inward exercises of a broken heart than 
with formality, and yet careful to use all sanctified 
means to convey comfort. 

Question, But how shall we come to have this 
temper ? 

Answer. First, we must conceive of bruising 
either as a state into which God bringeth us, or 
as a duty to be performed by us. Both are here 
meant. We must join with God in bruising of 
ourselves. When he humbles us, let us humble 
ourselves, and not stand out against him, for then 
he will redouble his strokes ; and let us justify 
Christ in all his chastisements, knowing that all 
his dealing towards us is to cause us to return 
into our own hearts. His work in bruising 
tendeth to our work in bruising ourselves. Let 

1 6 The Bruised Reed 

us lament our own untowardness, and say, Lord, 
what a heart have I that needs all this, that none 
of this could be spared ! We must lay siege to 
the hardness of our own hearts, and aggravate 
sin all we can. We must look on Christ, who 
was bruised for us, look on him whom we have 
pierced with our sins. But all directions will not 
prevail, unless God by his Spirit convinceth us 
deeply, setting our sins before us, and driving us 
to a stand. Then we will make out for mercy. 
Conviction will breed contrition, and this humilia- 
tion. Therefore desire God that he would bring 
a clear and a strong light into all the corners of 
our souls, and accompany it with a spirit of power 
to lay our hearts low. 

A set measure of bruising ourselves cannot 
be prescribed ; yet it must be so far, as (i.) we may 
prize Christ above all, and see that a Saviour 
must be had ; and (2.) until we reform that which 
is amiss, though it be to the cutting off our right 
hand, or pulling out our right eye. There is a 
dangerous slighting of the work of humiliation, 
some alleging this for a pretence for their overly 
dealing with their own hearts, that Christ will 
not break the bruised reed ; but such must know 
that every sudden terror and short grief is not 
that which makes us bruised reeds ; not a little 

and Smoking Flax. 1 7 

flanging down our heads like a bulrush^ Isa. Iviii. 5, 
but a working our hearts to such a grief as will 
make sin more odious unto us than punishment, 
until we offer a holy violence against it ; else, 
favouring ourselves, we make work for Gpd to 
bruise us, and for sharp repentance afterwards. 
It is dangerous, I confess, in some cases with 
some spirits, to press too much and too long 
this bruising, because they may die under the 
wound and burden before they be raised up 
again. Therefore it is good in mixed assemblies 
to mingle comfort, that every soul may have its 
due portion. But if we lay this for a ground, that 
there is more mercy in Christ than sin in us, 
there can be no danger in thorough dealing. It 
is better to go bruised to heaven than sound to 
hell. Therefore let us not take off ourselves too 
soon, nor pull off the plaster before the cure be 
wrought, but keep ourselves under this work till 
sin be the sourest, and Christ the sweetest, of all 
things. And when God's hand is upon us in any 
kind, it is good to divert our sorrow for other 
things to the root of all, which is sin. Let our 
grief run most in that channel, that as sin bred 
grief, so grief may consume sin. 

Quest. But are we not bruised unless we 
grieve more for sin than we do for punishment ? 


The Bruised Reed 

Ans. Sometimes our grief from outward griev- 
ances may lie heavier upon the soul than grief for 
God's displeasure; because in such cases the 
grief works upon the whole man, both outward 
and inward, and hath nothing to stay it, but a 
little spark of faith : which, by reason of the 
violent impression of the grievance, is suspended 
in the exercises of it : and this is most felt in 
sudden distresses which come upon the soul as a 
torrent or land-flood, and especially in bodily 
distempers, which, by reason of the sympathy 
between the soul and the body, work upon the 
soul so far as they hinder not only the spiritual, 
but often the natural acts. Hereupon St. James 
wisheth in affliction to pray ourselves, but in case 
of sickness to send for the elders^ James v. 14; 
that may, as those in the gospel, offer up the 
sick person to God in their prayers, being unable 
to present their own case. Hereupon God ad- 
mitteth of such a. plea from the sharpness and 
bitterness of the grievance, as in David, Ps. vi., 
etc " The Lord knoweth whereof we are made, 
he remembereth we are but dust," Ps. ciii. 14; 
that our strength is not the strength of steel. It 
is a branch of his faithfulness unto us as his 
creatures, whence he is called "a faithful Creator," 
I Pet IV. 19; "God is faithful, who will not 

and Smoking Flax. 1 9 

suffer us to be tempted above that we are able," 
I Cor. X. 13. There were certain command- 
ments which the Jews called the hedges of the 
law : as to fence men off from cruelty, he com- 
manded they should " not take the dam with the 
young, nor seethe the kid in the mother's milk," 
Exod. xxiii. 19; "nor muzzle the mouth of the 
ox," I Cor. ix. 9. Hath God care of beasts, and 
not of his more noble creature ? And therefore 
we ought to judge charitably of the complaints 
of God's people which are wrung from them in 
such cases. Job had the esteem with God of a 
patient man, notwithstanding those passionate 
complaints. Faith overborne for the present will 
get ground again ; and grief for sin, although it 
come short of grief for misery in violence, yet it 
goeth beyond it in constancy; as a running 
stream fed with a spring holdeth out, when a 
sudden swelling brook faileth. 

For the concluding of this point, and our 
encouragement to a thorough work of bruising, 
and patience under God's bruising of us, let all 
know that none are fitter for comfort than those 
that think themselves furthest off. Men, for the 
most part, are not lost enough in their own feel- 
ing for a Saviour. A holy despair in ourselves 
is the ground of true hope, Hos. xiv. 3. In God 

20 The Bruised Reed 

the fatherless find mercy: if men were more 
fatherless, they should feel more God's fatherly 
affection from heaven ; for God that dwelleth in 
highest heavens, Isa. Ixvi. 2, dwelleth likewise in 
the lowest soul. Christ's sheep are weak sheep, 
and wanting in something or other ; he therefore 
applieth himself to the necessities of every sheep. 
'' He seeks that which was lost, and brings again 
that which was driven out of the way, and binds 
up that which was broken, and strengthens the 
weak," Ezek. xxxiv. 16; his tenderest care is 
over the weakest The lambs he carrieth in his 
bosom, Isa. xL 1 1 ; " Peter, feed my lambs," John 
xxL 15. He was most familiar and open to the 
troubled souls. How careful was he that Peter 
and the rest of the apostles should not be too 
much dejected after his resurrection ! " Go tell 
the disciples, and tell Peter," Mark xvL 7. Christ 
knew that guilt of their unkindness in leaving of 
him had dejected their spirits. How gently did 
he endure Thomas' unbelief! and stooped so 
far unto his weakness as to suffer him to thrust 
his hand into his side. 

and Smoking Flax. 


Chap. V. — Grace is little at first. 

For the second branch, God will not quench 
the smoking flax, or wick, but will blow it up till 
it flameth. In smoking flax there is but a little 
light, and that weak, as being not able to flame, 
and this little mixed with smoke. 

The observations hence are, first, That in GocCs 
children, especially in their first conversion, there 
is but a little measure of grace, and that little 
mixed with much corruption, which, as smoke, is 
offensive. Secondly, T/tat Christ will not quench 
this smoking flax. 

Obs, I. For the first, Grace is little at the first 
There are several ages in Christians, some babes, 
some young men : grace is as " a grain of mustard 
seed," Matt. xvii. 20. Nothing so little as grace 
at first, and nothing more glorious afterward: 
things of greatest perfection are longest in com- 
ing to their growth. Man, the perfectest creature, 
comes to perfection by little and little ; worthless 
things, as mushrooms and the like, like Jonah's 
gourd, soon spring up, and soon vanish. A new 
creature is the most excellent frame in all the 
world, therefore it groweth up by degrees ; we 
see in nature that a mighty oak riseth of an 

2 2 The Bruised Reed 

acorn. It is with a Christian as it was with 
Christ, who sprang out of the dead stock of 
Jesse, out of David's family, Isa. liiL 2, when it 
was at the lowest, but he grew up higher than 
the heavens. It is not with the trees of righteous- 
ness as it was with the trees of paradise, which 
were created all perfect at the first The seeds 
of all the creatures in this goodly frame of the 
world were hid in the chaos, in that confused 
mass at the first, out of which God did command 
all creatures to arise ; in the small seeds of plants 
lie hid both bulk and branches, bud and fruit 
In a few principles lie hid all comfortable con- 
clusions of holy truth. All these glorious fire- 
works of zeal and holiness in the saints had their 
banning from a few sparks. 

Let us not therefore be discouraged at the 
small b^nnings of grace, but look on ourselves 
as ''elected to be blameless and without spot," 
Eph. i. 4. Let us only look on our imperfect 
banning to enforce further strife to perfection, 
and to keep us in a low conceit Otherwise, in 
case of discouragement, we must consider our- 
selves, as Christ doth, who looks on us as such as 
he intendeth to fit for himself. Christ valueth us 
by what we shall be, and by that we are elected 
unto. We call a little plant a tree, because it is 

and Smoking Flax, 2 3 

growing up to be so. " Who is he that despiseth 
the day of little things ? " Zech. iv. 10. Christ 
would not have us despise little things. 

The glorious angels disdain not attendance on 
little ones ; little in their own eyes, and little in 
the eyes of the world. 

Grace, though little in quantity, yet is much 
in vigour and worth. 

It is Christ that raiseth the worth of little and 
mean places and persons. Bethlehem the least, 
Micah V. 2, Matt iL 6, and yet not the least ; the 
least in itself, not the least in respect Christ was 
bom there. The second temple. Hag. iL 9, 
came short of the outward magnificence of 
the former; yet more glorious than the first, 
because Christ came into it. The Lord of the 
temple came into his own temple. The pupil of 
the eye is very little, yet seeth a great part of 
the heaven at once. A pearl, though little, yet 
is of much esteem : nothing in the world of so 
good use, as the least dram of grace. 

Chap. VI. — Gract is minted with Corruptum. 

Obs. 2. But grace is not only little, but mingled 
with corruption ; whereof it is, that a Christian 
is said to be smoking flax. Whence we see. 

24 The Bruised Reed 

^zX. grace doth not waste corruption all at once, 
but some is left to conflict withal. The purest 
actions of the purest men need Christ to per- 
fume them, and so is his office. When we pray, 
we need to pray again for Christ to pardon the 
defects of them. See some instances of this 
smoking flax. Moses at the Red Sea, being in a 
great perplexity, and knowing not what to say, 
or which way to turn him, groaned to God : no 
doubt this was a great conflict in him. In great 
distresses we know not what to pray, but the 
Spirit makes request with sighs that cannot be 
expressed, Rom. viii. 26. Broken hearts can 
yield but broken prayers. 

When David was before the king of Gath, i 
Sam. XXI. 13, and disfigured himself in an un- 
comely manner, in that smoke there was some 
fire also ; you may see what an excellent psalm 
he makes upon that occasion, Ps. xxxiv. ; wherein, 
upon experience, ver. 18, he saith, "The Lord 
is near unto them that are of a contrite spirit ;" 
Ps. xxxi. 22, " I said in my haste, I am cast out 
of thy sight;" there is smoke: "yet thou heardest 
the voice of my prayer; " there is fire. " Master, 
carest thou not^that we perish ? " Matt viii. 25, 
cry the disciples ; here is smoke of infidelity, yet 
so much light of faith as stirred them up to pray 

and Smoking Flax. 2 5 


to Christ. " Lord, I believe:" there is light; " but 
help my unbelief," Mark ix. 24: there is smoke. 

Jonah cries, ii. 4, " I am cast out of thy sight :" 
there is smoke ; " yet will I look again to thy 
holy temple : " there is light. 

" O miserable man that I am," Rom. vii. 24, 
saith St Paul upon sense of his corruption ; but 
yet breaks out into thanks to God through Jesus 
Christ our Lord. 

" I sleep," saith the Church in the Canticles, 
" but my heart wakes," Cant. v. 2. In the seven 
Churches, which for their light are called, " seven 
golden candlesticks," Rev. ii., iii., most of them 
had much smoke with their light. 

The ground of this mixture is, that we carry 
about us a double principle, grace and nature. 
The end of it is especially to preserve us from 
those two dangerous rocks which our natures 
are prone to dash upon, security and pride ; and 
to force us to pitch our rest on justification, not 
sanctification, which, besides imperfection, hath 
some soil. 

Our spiritual fire is like our ordinary fire here 
below, that is, mixed ; but fire is most pure in 
its own element above ; so shall all our graces 
be when we are where we would be, in heaven, 
which is our proper element. 

26 The Bruised Reed 

Use, From this mixture it is, that the people 
of God have so different judgments of themselves, 
looking sometimes at the work of grace, some- 
times at the remainder of corruption, and when 
they look upon that, then they thinlc they have 
no grace ; though they love Christ in his ordi- 
nances and children, yet dare not challenge so 
near acquaintance as to be his. Even as a 
candle in the socket sometimes sheweth its 
light, and sometimes the shew of light is 
lost ; so sometimes well persuaded they are of 
themselves, sometimes at a loss. 

Chap. VII. — Christ will not quench small and weak 


Doct. Now for the second observation, Christ 
will not quench the smoking flax. First, because 
this spark is from heaven, it is his own, it is 
kindled by his own Spirit. And secondly, it 
tendeth to the glory of his powerful grace in his 
children, that he preserveth light in the midst of 
darkness, — a spark in the midst of the swelling 
waters of corruption. 

There is an especial blessing in that little 
spark ; " when wine is found in a cluster, one 
saith, Destroy it not ; for there is a blessing in it," 

and Smoking Flax. 27 


Isa, Ixv. 8. We see how our Saviour Christ bore 
with Thomas in his doubting, John xx. 27 ; with 
the two disciples that went to Emmaus, who 
staggered " whether he came to redeem Israel or 
no," Luke xxiv. 21 : he quenched not that little 
light in Peter which was smothered : Peter 
denied him, but he denied not Peter, Matt, 
xxvi. "If thou wilt, thou canst," said one 
poor man in the gospel, Matt. viii. 2 ; " Lord, if 
thou canst," said another, Mark ix. 22; both 
were this smoking flax, neither of both were 
quenched. If Christ had stood upon his own 
greatness, he would have rejected him that came 
with his if ; but Christ answers his if with a 
gracious and absolute grant, "I will, be thou 
clean." The woman that was diseased with an 
issue did but touch, and with a trembling hand, 
and but the hem of his garment, and yet went 
away both healed and comforted. In the seven 
churches. Rev. ii., iii., we see he acknowledgeth 
and cherisheth anything that was good in them. 
Because the disciples slept of infirmity, being 
oppressed with grief, our Saviour Christ frameth 
a comfortable excuse for them, "The spirit is 
willing, but the flesh is weak," Matt. xxvi. 41. 

If Christ should not be merciful, he would 
miss of his own ends ; " there is mercy with thee 


The Bruised Reed 

that thou mayst be feared," Ps. cxxx. 4* Now all 
are willing to come under that banner of love 
which he spreadeth over his : " therefore to thee 
shall all flesh come," Ps. Ixv. 2. He useth 
moderation and care, " lest the spirit should fail 
before him, and the souls which he hath made," 
Isa. Ivii. 16. Christ's heart yearned, the text 
saith, "when he saw them without meat, lest 
they should faint," Matt, xv, 32 ; much more will 
he have regard for the preventing of our spiritual 

Here see the opposite disposition between the 
holy nature of Christ, and the impure nature of 
man. Man for a little smoke will quench the 
light ; Christ ever we see cherisheth even the least 
beginnings. How bare he with the many imper- 
fections of his poor disciples. If he did sharply 
check them, it was in love, and that they might 
shine the brighter. Can we have a better 
pattern to follow than this of him by whom we 
hope to be saved ? " We that are strong ought 
to bear with the infirmities of them that are 
weak," Rom. xv. i. "I become all things to all 
men, that I may win some," I Cor. ix. 22. Oh, 
that this gaining and winning disposition were 
more in many ! Many, so far as in us lieth, are 
lost for want of encouragement. See how that 

and Smoking Flax. 29 

faithful fisher of men, St. Paul, labours to catch 
his judge, " I know thou believest the prophets," 
Acts xxvi. 27 ; and then wisheth all saving good, 
but not bonds ; he might have added them too, 
but he would not discourage one that made but 
an offer, he would therefore wish Agrippa only 
that which was good in religion. How careful 
was our blessed Saviour of little ones that they 
might not be offended, Matt xii., xiii. How 
doth he defend his disciples from malicious 
imputations of the Pharisees ! How careful not 
to put new wine into old vessels. Matt. ix. 17, 
not to alienate new beginners with the austerities 
of religion (as some indiscreetly). Oh, saith he, 
they shall have time to fast when I am gone, and 
strength to fast when the Holy Ghost is come 
upon them. 

It is not the best way to fall foul presently 
with young beginners for some lesser vanities, 
but shew them a more excellent way, and breed 
them up in positive grounds, and other things 
will be quickly out of credit with them. It is 
not amiss to conceal their wants, to excuse some 
failings, to commend their performances, to 
cherish their towardness, to remove all rubs out 
of their way, to help them every way to bear the 
yoke of religion with greater ease, to bring them 


The Bruised Reed 

in love with God and his service, lest they dis- 
taste it before they know it. For the most part 
we see Christ planteth in young beginners a love 
which we call " the first love," Rev. ii. 4, to carry 
them through their profession with more delight, 
and doth not expose them to crosses before they 
have gathered strength ; as we breed up young 
plants, and fence them from the weather, until 
they be rooted. Mercy to others should move 
us to deny ourselves in our lawful liberties often- 
times, in case of offence of weak ones ; it is the 
"little ones that are offended," Matt, xviii. 6. 
The weakest are aptest to think themselves 
despised, therefore we should be most careful to 
give them content. 

It were a good strife amongst Christians, one to 
labour to give no offence, and the other to labour 
to take none. The best men are severe to them- 
selves, tender over others. 

Yet people should not tire and wear out the 
patience of others : nor should the weaker so far 
exact moderation from others, as to bear out 
themselves upon theif indulgence, and so to rest 
in their own infirmities, with danger to their own 
souls, and scandal to the church. 

Neither hereupon must they set light by the 
gifts of God in others, which grace teacheth to 

and Smoking Flax. 


honour wheresoever they are found, but know 
their parts and place, and not enterprise anything 
above their measure, which may make their 
persons and their case obnoxious to scorn. 
When blindness and boldness, ignorance and 
arrogance, weakness and wilfulness meet to- 
gether in one, it renders men odious to God, it 
maketh men burdensome in society, dangerous in 
their counsels, troublers of better designs, untract- 
able and incapable of better direction, miserable 
in the issu^ : where Christ sheweth his gracious 
power in weakness, he doth it by letting men 
understand themselves so far as to breed humility, 
and magnifying of God's love to such as they are : 
he doth it as a preservative against discourage- 
ments from weakness, seeing it bringeth men into 
a less distance from grace, as being an advantage 
to poverty of spirit, than greatness of condition 
and parts, which yield to corrupt nature fuel for 
pride. Christ refuseth none for weakness of parts, 
that none should be discouraged; accepteth of 
none for greatness, that none should be lifted up 
with that which is of so little reckoning with God. 
It is no great matter how dull the scholar be, 
when Christ taketh upon him to be the teacher : 
who as he prescribeth what to understand, so he 
giveth understanding itself even to the simplest. 


The Bruised Reed 

The Church suffereth much from weak ones, 
therefore we may challenge liberty to deal with 
them, as mildly, so oftentimes directly. The 
scope of true love is to make the party better, 
which by concealment oftentimes is hindered ; 
with some a spirit of meekness prevaileth most, 
but with some a rod. Some must be " pulled out 
of the fire," Jude 23, with violence, and they will 
bless God for us in the day of their visitation. 
We see our Saviour multiplies woe upon woe 
when he was to deal with hard-hearted hypocrites. 
Matt, xxiii. 13, for hypocrites' need stronger con- 
viction than gross sinners, because their will is 
nought, and thereupon usually their conversion 
is violent. A hard knot must have an answer- 
* able wedge, else in a cruel pity we betray their 
souls. A sharp reproof sometimes is a precious 
pearl, and a sweet balm. The wounds of secure 
sinners will not be healed with sweet words. 
The Holy Ghost came as well in fiery tongues 
as in the likeness of a dove, and the same Holy 
Spirit will vouchsafe a spirit of prudence and 
discretion, which is the salt to season all our 
words and actions. And such wisdom will teach 
us " to speak a word in season," Isa. 1. 4, both to 
the weary, and likewise to the secure soul. And, 
indeed, he had need have "the tongue of the 

and Smoking Flax. 33 

learned," Isa. 1. 4, that shall either raise up or 
cast down ; but in this place I speak of mildness 
towards those that are weak and are sensible of 
it These we must bring on gently, and drive 
softly, as Jacob did his cattle, Gen. xxxiii. 14, 
according to their pace, and as his children were 
able to endure. 

Weak Christians are like glasses which are 
hurt with the least violent usage, otherwise if 
gently handled will continue a long time. This 
honour of gentle use we are to "give to the 
weaker vessels," i Pet iii. 7, by which we shall 
both preserve them, and likewise make them 
useful to the church and ourselves. 

In unclean bodies if all ill humours be purged 
out, you shall purge life and all away. Therefore 
though God saith, that " he will fine them as 
silver is fined," Zech. xiii. 9 ; yet, Isa. xlviii. 10, he 
said, " he hath fined them, but not as silver," that 
is, so exactly as that no dross remaineth, for he 
hath respect to our weakness. Perfect refining is 
for another world, for the w6rld of the souls of 
perfect men. 



The Bruised Reed 

Chap. VIII. — Tenderness required in Ministers 
toward young Beginners. 

I. Divines had need to take heed therefore 
how they deal with these in divers particulars : 
as first let them be careful they strain not things 
too high, making those general and necessary 
evidences of grace, which agree not to the ex- 
perience of many a good Christian, and lay salva- 
tion and damnation upon those things that are 
not fit to bear so great a weight, whereupon men 
are groundlessly cast down lower by them, than 
they can hastily be raised up again by them- 
selves or others. The ambassadors of so gentle 
a Saviour should not be over-masterly, setting 
up themselves in the hearts of people where 
Christ alone should sit as in his own temple. 
Too much respect to man was one of the inlets 
of popery. " Let a man account of us as of 
the ministers of Christ," i Cor. iv. i, neither 
more nor less, just so much. How careful was 
St. Paul in cas^s of conscience not to lay a snare 
upon any weak conscience. 

They should take heed likewise that they hide 
not their meaning in dark speeches, speaking in 
the clouds. Truth feareth nothing so much as 
concealment, and desireth nothing so much as 

and Smoking Flax. 3 5 

clearly to be laid open to the view of all : when it 
is most naked, it is most lovely and powerful. 

Our blessed Saviour, as he took our nature 
upon him, so he took upon him our familiar 
manner of speech, which was part of his volun- 
tary abasement. St. Paul was a profound man, 
yet became as a nurse to the weaker sort, i; 
Thess. ii. 7. 

That spirit of mercy that was in Christ should 
move his servants to be content to abase them- 
selves for the good of the meanest. What made 
the "kingdom of heaven suffer violence," Matt, 
xi. 22, after John the Baptist's time, but that 
comfortable truths were with that plainness 
and evidence laid open, that the people were so 
affected with them, as they offered a holy 
violence to them ? 

Christ chose those to preach mercy, which had 
felt most mercy, as St. Peter and St. Paul ; that 
they might be examples of what they taught. 


St. Paul "became all things to all men," i 
Cor. ix. 2, stooping unto them for their good. 
Christ came down from heaven, and emptied him- 
self of majesty in tender love to souls ; shall we 
not come down from our high conceits to do any 
poor soul good.? shall man be proud after God 
hath been humble? We see the ministers of 


The Bruised Reed 

Satan turn themselves into all shapes to " make 
proselytes," Matt. xxiiL 15. A Jesuit will be 
every man. We see ambitious men study ac- 
commodation of themselves to the humours of 
those by whom they hope to be raised ; and 
shall not we study application of ourselves to 
Christ, by whom we hope to be advanced, nay, 
are already sitting with him in heavenly places ? 
After we are gained to Christ ourselves, we 
should labour to gain others to Christ Holy 
ambition and covetousness will move us to put 
upon ourselves the disposition of Christ : but we 
must put off ourselves first 

We should not, thirdly, rack their wits with 
curious or " doubtful disputes," Rom. xiv. i ; for 
so we shall distract and tire them, and give 
occasion to make them cast off the care of all. 
That age of the Church which was most fertile 
in nice questions, was most barren in religion : 
for it makes people think religion to be only a 
matter of wit, in tying and untying of knots ; 
the brains of men given that way are hotter 
usually than their hearts. 

Yet, notwithstanding, when we are cast into 
times and places wherein doubts are raised about 
main points, here people ought to labour to be 
established. God sufTereth questions oftentimes 

and Smoking Flax. 37 

to arise for trial of our love and exercise of our 
parts. Nothing is so certain as that which is 
certain after doubts. Nil tarn cerium qudm quod 
ex dubio certum. Shaking settles and roots. In 
a contentious age, it is a witty thing to be a 
Christian, and to know what to pitch their souls 
upon ; it is an office of love here to take away 
the stones, and to smooth the way to heaven. 
Therefore, we must take heed that, under pre- 
tence of avoidance of disputes, we do not suffer 
an adverse party to get ground upon the truth ; 
for thus may we easily betray both the truth of 
God and souls of men. 

And likewise those are failing that, by over- 
much austerity, drive back troubled souls from 
having comfort by them ; for by this carriage 
many smother their temptations, and bum in- 
wardly, because they have none into whose 
bosom they may vent their grief and ease their 

We must neither bind where God looseth, nor 
loose where God bindeth, nor open where God 
shutteth, no^ shut where God openeth ; the right 
use of the keys is always successful. In per- 
sonal application there must be great heed taken ; 
for a man may be a false prophet, and yet speak 
the truth. If it be not a truth to the person to 


The Bruised Reed 

whom he speaketh ; if he " grieve those whom 
God hath not grieved," Lam. iii. 33, by unseason- 
able truths, or by comforts in an ill way, the 
hearts of the wicked may be strengthened. One 
man's meat may be another's bane. 

If we look to the general temper of these 
times, rousing and waking Scriptures are fittest ; 
yet there be many broken spirits need soft and 
oily words. Even in the worst time the pro- 
phets mingled sweet comfort for the hidden rem- 
nant of faithful people. God hath comfort ; 
"Comfort ye my people," Isa. xl. i, as well as 
" lift up thy voice as a trumpet," Isa. Iviii. i. 

And here likewise there needs a caveat. 
Mercy doth not rob us of our right judgment, 
as that we should take stinking fire-brands for 
smoking fl'ax. None will claim mercy more of 
others, than those whose portion is due severity. 
This example doth not countenance lukewarm- 
ness, nor too much indulgence to those that 
need quickening. Cold diseases must have hot 
remedies. It made for the just commendations 
of the Church of Ephesus, "that it could not 
bear with them which are evil," Rev. ii. 2. We 
should so bear with others, as we discover withal 
a dislike of evil. Our Saviour Christ would not 
forbear sharp reproof where he saw dangerous 

and Smoking Flax. 39 

infirmities in his most beloved disciples. It 
bringeth under a curse "to do the work of 
the Lord n^ligently," Jer. xlviii. 10; even 
where it is a work of just severity, as when 
it is sheathing the sword in the bowels of the 
enemy. And those whom we suffer to be be- 
trayed by their worst enemies, their sins, will 
have just cause to curse us another day. 

It is hard to preserve just bounds of mercy 
and severity, without a spirit above our own ; 
which we ought to desire to be led withal in all 
things. That "wisdom which dwelleth with 
prudence," Prov. viii. 12, will guide us in these 
particulars, without which virtue is not virtue, 
truth not truth. The rule and the case must be 
laid together ; for if there be not a narrow in- 
sight, seeming likeness in conditions will be the 
breeder of errors in our opinions of them. Those 
fiery, tempestuous, and destructive spirits in 
popery, that seek to promote their religion by 
cruelty, shew that they are strangers to that 
wisdom which is from above, which maketh men 
gentle, peaceable, and ready to shew that mercy 
they have] felt before themselves. It is a way 
of prevailing, as agreeable to Christ, so likewise 
to man's nature, to prevail by some forbearance 
and moderation. 


The Bruised Reed 

And yet oft we see a false spirit in those that 
call for moderation. It is but to carry their 
own projects with the greater strength ; and if 
they prove of the prevailing hand, they will 
hardly show that moderation to others they now 
call for from others. And there is a proud 
kind of moderation likewise, when men will take 
upon them to censure both parties, as if they 
were wiser than both, although, if the spirit be 
right, a looker on may see more than those that 
are in conflict 

Chap., IX. — Governors should be tender of weak ones, 
and also private Christians* 

2. So in the censures of the church, it is more 
suitable to the spirit of Christ to incline to the 
milder part, and not to kill a fly on the forehead 
with a beetle, nor shut men out of heaven for 
a trifle. The very snuffers of the tabernacle were 
made of pure gold, to shew the purity of those 
censures, whereby the light of the church is kept 
bright That power that is given to the church 
is given for edification, not destruction. How 
careful was St Paul, that the incestuous Cor- 
inthian, 2 Cor. ii. 7, repenting, should not be 
swallowed up with too much grief. 

and Smoking Flax, 


As for civil magistrates, they, for civil exi- 
gencies and reasons of state, must let the law 
have its course ; yet thus far they should imitate 
this mild king, as not to mingle bitterness and 
passion with authority derived from God. 
Authority is a beam of God's majesty, and pre- 
vaileth most where there is least mixture of that 
which is man's. It requireth more than ordinary 
wisdom to manage it aright. This string must 
not be too much strained up, nor too much let 
loose. Justice is an harmonical thing. Herbs 
hot or cold beyond a certain degree, kill. We 
see even contrary elements preserved in one body 
by a wise contemperation. Justice in rigour is 
oft extreme injustice, where some considerable 
circumstances should incline to moderation ; and 
the reckoning will be easier for bending rather to 
moderation than rigour. 

Insolent carriage toward miserable persons, if 
humbled, is unseemly in any who look for mercy 
themselves. Misery should be a loadstone of 
mercy, not a footstool for pride to trample on. 

Sometimes it falleth out that those that are 
under the government of others, are most in- 
jurious by waywardness and harsh censures, 
herein disparaging and discouraging the endea- 
vours of superiors for public good. In so great 


The Bruised Reed 

weakness of man's nature, and especially in this 
crazy age of the world, we ought to take in good 
part any moderate happiness we enjoy by govern- 
ment; and not be altogether as a nail in the 
wound, exasperating things by misconstruction. 
Here love should have a mantle to cast upon 
lesser errors of those above us. Oftentimes the 
poor man is the oppressor by unjust clamours. 
We should labour to give the best interpretation 
to the actions of governors that the nature of the 
actions will possibly bear. 

In the last place, there is something for private 
Christians, even for all of us in our common 
relations, to take notice of: we are debtors to 
the weak in many things. 

1. Let us be watchful in the use of our liberty, 
and labour to be inoffensive in our carriage, that 
our example compel them not. There is a com- 
manding force in an example, as Peter, Gal. ii. 
Looseness of life is cruelty to ourselves, and to 
the souls of others. Though we cannot keep 
them from perishing which will perish, in regard 
of the event ; yet if we do that which is apt of 
itself to destroy the souls of others, their ruin is 
imputable to us. 

2. Let men take heed of taking up Satan's 
office, in depraving the good actions of 6thers, as 

and Smoking Flax, 43 

he did Job's, " doth he serve God for nought ? ** 
Job i. 9, or slandering their persons, judging of 
them according to the wickedness that is in their 
own hearts. The devil getteth more by such 
discouragements, and these reproaches that are 
cast upon religion, than by fire and faggot. These, 
as unseasonable frosts, nip all gracious offers in 
the bud ; and as much as in them Heth, with 
Herod, labour to kill Christ in young professors. 
A Christian is a hallowed and a sacred thing, 
Christ's temple; "and he that destroyeth his 
temple, him will Christ destroy," i Cor. iii. 17. 

3. Amongst the things that are to be taken 
heed of, there is amongst private Christians a 
bold usurpation of censure towards others, not 
considering their temptations. Some will un- 
church and unbrother in a passion. But dis- 
tempers do not alter true relations ; though the 
child in a fit should disclaim the mother, yet the 
mother will not disclaim the child. 

There is therefore in these judging times good 
ground of St. James' caveat, that there should 
not " be too many masters," James iii. i ; that we 
should not smite one another by hasty censures, 
especially in things of an indifferent nature ; some 
things are as the mind of him is that doth them, 
or doth them not ; for both may be unto the Lord. 


The Bruised Reed 

A holy aim in things of a middle nature mSikes 
the judgments of men, although seemingly con- 
trary, yet not so much blameable. Christ, for 
the good aims he seeth in us, overlooketh any 
ill in them, so far as not to lay it to our charge. 

Men must not be too curious in prying into 
the weaknesses of others. We should labour 
rather to see what they have that is for eternity, 
to incline our heart to love them, than into that 
weakness which the Spirit of God will in time 
consume, to estrange us. Some think it strength 
of grace to endure nothing in the weaker, whereas 
the strongest are readiest to bear with the in- 
firmities of the weak. 

Where most holiness is, there is most modera- 
tion, where it may be without prejudice of piety 
to God and the good of others. We see in 
Christ a marvellous temper of absolute holiness, 
with great moderation, in this text. What had 
become of our salvation if he had stood upon 
terms, and not stooped thus low unto us ? We 
need not affect to be more holy than Christ ; it 
is no flattery to do as he doth, so it be to edifica- 

The Holy Ghost is content to dwell in smoky, 
offensive souls. O, that that Spirit would breathe 
into our spirits the like merciful disposition ! 


and Smoking Flax. 45 

We endure the bitterness of wormwood, and 
other distasteful plants and herbs, only because 
we have some experience of some wholesome 
quality in them ; and why should we reject men 
of useful parts and graces, only for some harsh- 
ness of disposition, which, as it is offensive to us, 
so grieveth themselves ? 

Grace whilst we live here is in souls, which as 
they are imperfectly renewed, so they dwell in 
bodies subject to several humours, which will 
incline the soul sometimes to excess in one 
passion, sometimes to excess in another. 

Bucer was a deep and a moderate divine ; upon 
long experience he resolved to refuse none in 
whom he saw, aliquid Christie something of 

The best Christians in this state of imperfec- 
tion are like gold that is a little too light, which 
needs some grains of allowance to make it pass. 
You must grant the best their allowance. We 
must supply out of our love and mercy, that 
which we see wanting in them. 

The church of Christ is a common hospital, 
wherein all are in some measure sick of some 
spiritual disease or other; that we should all 
have ground of exercising mutually the spirit of 
wisdom and meekness. 


The Bruised Reed 

1. This that we may the better do, let us put 
upon ourselves the' Spirit of Christ The Spirit 
of God carrieth a majesty with it Corruption 
will hardly yield to corruption in another. Pride 
is intolerable to pride. The weapons of this 
warfare must not be carnal, 2 Cor. x. 4. The 
great apostles would not set upon the work of 
the ministry, until they were " clothed as it were 
with power from on high," Luke xxiv. 49. The 
Spirit will only work ^with his own tools. And 
we should think what affection Christ would 
carry to the party in this case. That great 
physician, as he had a quick eye and a healing 
tongue, so had he a gentle hand, and a tender 

2. And secondly, put upon us the condition of 
him whom we deal withal : we are, or have been, 
or may be such : make the case our own, and 
withal consider in what near relation a Christian 
siandeth unto us, even as a brother, a fellow- 
member, heir of the same salvation. And there- 
fore let us take upon ourselves a tender care of 
them every way; and especially in cherishing 
the peace of their consciences. Conscience is a 
tender and delicate thing, and so must be used. 
It is like a lock, if the wards be troubled, it will 
be troublesome to open. 

Chap. X. — RtUes to try whether we be such as Christ 

will not quench. 

For trial, to let us see whether we be this smok- 
ing flax which Christ will not quench. In this 
trial remember these : — i. Rules. 2, Signs, 

1. We must have two eyes, one to see imper- 
fections in ourselves and others ; the other to see 
what is good. " I am black," saith the church, 
" but yet comely," Cant i. 5. Those ever want 
comfort that are much in quarrelling with them- 
selves, and through their infirmities are prone to 
feed upon such bitter things, as will most nourish 
that distemper they are sick of. These delight 
to be looking on the dark side of the cloud only. 

2. We must not judge of ourselves always 
according to present feeling ; for in temptations 
we shall see nothing but smoke of distrustful 
thoughts. Fire may be raked up in the ashes, 
though not seen ; life in the winter is hid in the 

3. Take heed of false reasoning ; as because 
our fire doth not blaze out as others, therefore we 
have no fire at all; and by false conclusions 
come to sin against the commandment in bearing 
false witness against ourselves. The prodigal 


The Bruised Reed 

would not say he was no son, but that he was 
not worthy to be called a son, Luke xv. 19. We 
must neither trust to false evidence, nor deny 
true; for so we should dishonour the work of 
God's spirit in us, and lose the help of that 
evidence which would cherish our love to Christ, 
and arm us against Satan's discouragements. 
Some are so faulty this way, as if they had been 
hired by Satan, the "accuser of the brethren," 
Rev. xii. 10, to plead for him, in accusing them- 

4, Know, for a ground of this, that in the 
covenant of grace, God requires the truth of 
grace, not any certain measure ; and a spark of 
fire is fire as well as the whole element. There- 
fore we must look to grace in the spark as well 
^ as in the flame. . All have not the like strong, 
yet the like precious faith, 2 Pet. i. i, whereby 
they lay hold, and put on, the perfect righteous- 
ness of Christ. A weak hand may receive a rich 
jewel ; a few grapes will show that the plant is a 
vine, and not a thorn. It is one thing to be 
wanting in grace, and another thing to want 
grace altogether. God knoweth we have nothing 
of ourselves, therefore in the covenant of grace 
he requireth no more than he giv^th, and giveth 
what he requireth, and accepteth what he giveth : 

and Smoking Flax. 


" He that hath not a lamb may bring a pair of 
turtle doves," Lev. xii. 6, What is the Gospel 
itself but a merciful moderation, in which Christ's 
obedience is esteemed ours, and our sins laid 
upon him, and wherein God of a judge becometh 
the father, pardoning our sins and accepting our 
obedience, though feeble and blemished! We 
are now brought to heaven under the covenant 
of grace by a way of love and mercy. 

It will prove a special help to know distinctly 
the difference between the covenant of works and 
the covenant of grace, between Moses and Christ ; 
Moses without all mercy breaketh all bruised 
reedSj^and quencheth all smoking flax. For the 
law requireth, i, personal ; 2, perpetual ; 3, per- 
fect obedience ; 4, and from a perfect heart ; and 
that under a most terrible curse, and giveth no 
strength, a severe taskmaster, like Pharaoh's 
requiring the whole tale, and yet giving no straw. 
Christ cometh with blessing after blessing even 
upon those whom Moses had cursed, and with 
healing balm for those wounds which Moses had 

The same duties are required in both covenants ; 
as " to love the Lord with all our hearts, with all 
our souls," etc., Deut vi. 5. In the covenant of 
works, this must be taken in the rigour; but 



The Bruised Reed 

under the covenant of grace, as it is a sincere 
endeavour proportionable to grace received (and 
so it must be understood of Josias, and others, 
when it is said, " they loved God with all their 
hearts," etc.), it must have an evangelical mitiga- 

The law is sweetened by the Gospel, and 
becometh delightful to the inner man, Rom. vii. 
22. Under this gracious covenant sincerity is 
perfection. This is the death in the pot in the 
Roman religion, that they confound two cove- 
nants ; and it deads the comfort of drooping 
ones, that they cannot distinguish them. And 
thus they suffer themselves to be "held under 
bondage," Isa. Ixi. i, 2, when Christ hath set 
them free; and stay themselves in the prison, 
when Christ hath set open the doors before them. 

5. Grace sometimes is so little as is undiscem- 
ible to us; the Spirit sometimes hath secret 
operations in us, which we know not for the 
present ; but Christ knoweth. Sometimes in 
bitterness of temptation, when the Spirit struggles 
with sense of God's anger, we are apt to think 
God an enemy; and a troubled soul, is like 
troubled water, we can see nothing in it ; and so 
far as it is not cleansed, it will cast up mire and 
dirt. It is full of objections against itself, yet for 

and Smoking Flax. 51 

the most part we may discern something of the 
hidden life, and of these smothered sparks. 

In a gloomy day there is so much light where- 
by we may know it to be day, and not night ; so 
there is something in a Christian under a cloud, 
whereby he may be discerned to be a true 
believer, and not a hypocrite. There is no mere 
darkness in the state of grace, but some beam of 
light, whereby the kingdom of dg^rkness wholly 
prevaileth not. 

Chap. XI. — Signs of smoking flax which Christ 

will not quench. 

These things premised, let us know for a trial, 
I. First, if there be any holy fire in uSy it is 
kindled from lieaven by the " Father of lights, 
who commandeth light to shine out of darkness," 
2 Cor. iv. 6. As it is kindled in the use of 
means, so it is fed. The light in us, and the 
light in the Word, spring one from the other, 
and both from one Holy Spirit ; and, therefore, 
those that regard not the Word, it is because 
there "is no light in them," Isa. viii. 20. Heavenly 
truths must have a heavenly light to discern 
them. Natural men see heavenly things, but 
not in their own proper light, but by an inferior 


The Bruised Reed 

light. God ' in every converted man putteth a 
light into the eye of his soul, proportionable to 
the light of truths revealed unto him. A carnal 
eye will never see spiritual things. 

2. Secondly, tlie least divine light Imth heat 
with it in some measure ; light in the under- 
standing breedeth heat of love in the affections. 
Claritas in intellectu parit ardorem in affectu. 
In what measure the sanctified understanding 
seeth a thing to be true, or good, in that measure 
the will embraces it. Weak light breeds weak 
inclinations ; a strong light, strong inclinations. 
A little spiritual light is of strength enough to 
answer strong objections of flesh and blood, and 
to look through all earthly allurements and 
opposing hindrances, presenting them as far 
inferior to those heavenly objects it eyeth. 

All light that is not spiritual, because it 
wanteth the strength of sanctifying grace, yieldeth 
to every little temptation, especially when it is 
fitted and suited to personal inclinations. This 
is the reason why Christians that have light, little 
for quantity, but yet heavenly for quality, hold 
out, when men of larger apprehensions sink. 

This prevailing of light in the soul is because, 
together with the spirit of illumination, there 
goeth, in the godly, a spirit of power, 2 Tim. i. 7, 

and Smoking Flax. 


to subdue th6 heart to truth revealed, and to 
put a taste and relish into the will, suitable to 
the sweetness of the truths ; else a mere natural 
will will rise against supernatural truths, as 
having an antipathy and enmity against them. 
In the godly, holy truths are conveyed by way 
of a taste ; gracious men have a spiritual palate 
as well as a spiritual eye. Grace altereth the 

3. Thirdly, where this heavenly light is kindled 
it directeth in the right way. For it is given for 
that use, to shew us the best way, and to guide 
in the particular passages of life ; if otherwise, it 
is but common light, given only for the good of 
others. Some have light of knowledge, yet 
follow not that light, but are guided by carnal 
reason and policy ; such as the prophet speaks 
of, " All you that kindle a fire, walk in the light 
of your own fire, and in the sparks that you have 
kindled ; but this you shall have of mine hand, 
ye shall lie down in sorrow," Isa. 1. 11. God 
delights to confound carnal wisdom, as enmity 
to him, and robbing him of his prerogative, who 
is God only wise. We must, therefore, walk by 
his light, and not the blaze of our own fire. God 
must light our candle, Ps. xviii. 28, or else we 
are like to abide in darkness. Those sparks 


The Bruised Reed 

that are not kindled from heaven, are not strong 
enough to keep us from lying down in sorrow, 
though they make a greater blaze and show than 
the light from above, as madmen do greater 
things than sober, but by a false strength : so 
the excess of these men's joy ariseth from a 
false light, " the candle of the wicked shall be 
put out," Job xviiL 6. 

The light that some men have, it is like light- 
ning, which after a sudden flash leaveth them 
more in darkness. They can love the light as it 
shines, but hate it as it discovers and directs. 
A little holy light will enable to keep the word, 
and not betray religion, and deny Christ's name, 
as Christ speaketh of the church of Philadelphia, 
Rev. ill. 8. 

4. Fourthly, where this fire is, // will sever 
things of diverse natureSy and shew a difference 
between things ^ as gold and dross. It will sever 
between flesh and spirit, and shew that this is 
of nature, this of grace. All is not ill in a bad 
action, or good in a good action. There is gold 
in ore, which God and his Spirit in us can distin- 
guish. A carnal man's heart is like a dungeon, 
wherein is nothing to be seen but horror and 
confusion ; this light maketh us judicious and 
humble, upon clearer sight of God's purity, and 

and Smoking Flax. 55 

our own uncleanness ; and maketh us able to 
discern of the work of the Spirit in another. 

5. Fifthly, so far as a man is spiritual, so far is 
light delightful unto hint^ as willing to see any- 
thing amiss, that he may reform, and any further 
service discovered that he may perform, because 
he truly hateth ill and loveth good ; if he goeth 
against light discovered, he will soon be re- 
claimed, because light hath a friendly party 
within him. Whereupon, at a little sight of his 
error he is soon counselable, as David in his 
intendment to kill Nabal, and blessed God after- 
wards, when he stopped in an ill way, i Sam. 
XXV. 32. 

In a carnal man, the light breaks in upon him, 
but he labours to shut the passages, he hath no 
delight to come to the light. It is impossible 
before the Spirit of grace hath subdued the heart, 
but that it should sin against the light, either 
by resisting of it, or keeping it prisoner under 
base lusts, and burying it, as it were, in the earth ; 
or perverting of it, and so making it an agent and 
factor for the flesh, in searching out arguments 
to plead for it, or abusing that little measure of 
light they have, to keep out a greater, higher, 
and more heavenly light ; and so, at length, 
make that light they have a misleading guide to 


The Bruised Reed 

utter darkness. And the reason is, because it 
hath no friend within, the soul is in a contrary 
frame; and light always hindereth that sinful 
peace that men are willing to speak to them- 
selves: whence we see it oft enrages men the 
more, as the sun in the spring breedeth aguish 
distempers, because it stirreth humours, and doth 
not waste them. There is nothing in the world 
more unquiet than the heart of a wicked man, 
that sitteth under means of knowledge, until, 
like a thief, he hath put out the candle, that he 
may sin with the less check. Spiritual light is 
distinct, it seeth spiritual good, with application 
to ourselves ; but common light is confused, and 
lets sin lie quiet. Where fire is in any degree, 
it will fight against the contrary matter. God 
hath put irreconcilable hatred between light 
and darkness at first, so between good and ill, 
flesh and spirit. Gal. v. 17 ; grace will never join 
with sin, no more than fire with water. Fire 
will mingle with no contrary, but preserveth its 
own purity, and is never corrupted as other 
elements are. Therefore, those that plead and 
plot for liberties of the flesh, shew themselves 
strangers from the life of God. Upon this strife, 
gracious men oft complain that they have no 
grace, but they contradict themselves in their 

and Smoking Flax. 


complaints ; as if a man that seeth should com- 
plain he cannot see, or complain that he is 
asleep, when the very complaint, springing from 
a displeasure against sin, sheweth that there is 
something in him opposite to sin. Can a dead 
man complain ? Some things, though bad in 
themselves, yet discover good ; as smoke dis- 
covers some fire. Breaking out in. the body 
shews strength of nature. Some infirmities dis- 
cover more good than some seeming beautiful 
actions. Excess of passion in opposing evil, 
though not to be justified, yet sheweth a better 
spirit than a calm temper, where there is just 
cause of being moved. Better it is that the 
water should run something muddily, than 
not at all. Job had more grace in his dis- 
tempers than his friends in their seeming 
wise carriage. Actions soiled with some weak- 
nesses are more accepted than complemental 

6. Sixthly, fire, where it is in the least measure 
is in some degree active ; so the least measure of 
grace is workingy as springing from the Spirit of 
God, which, from the working nature of it, is 
compared to fire. Nay, in sins, when there 
seemeth nothing active, but corruption, yet there 
is a contrary principle, which breaks the force of 


The Bruised Reed 

sin, so that it is not out of measure sinful, as in 
those that are carnal, Rom. vii. 13. 

7. Seventhly, fire maketh metals pliable and 
malleabky so doth grace^ where it is begun; it 
worketh the heart to be pliable and ready for all 
good impressions. Untractable spirits shew that 
they are not so much as smoking flax. 

8. Eighthly, fire tumeth all, as much as it can, 
to fire; so grace laboureth to breed the like 
impression in others ^ and make as many good as 
it can, Grace likewise maketh a gracious use 
even of natural and civil things, and doth spirit- 
ualise them. What another man doth only civilly, 
a gracious man will do holily. Whether he 
eateth or drinketh, or whatsoever he doth, he 
doth all to the glory of God, i Cor. x. 31, making 
everything serviceable to the last end. 

9. Ninthly, sparks by nature fly upwards ; so 
the Spirit of grace carrieth the soul heavenward^ 
and setteth before us holy and heavenly aims. As 
it was kindled from heaven, so it carries us back 
to heaven. The part followeth the whole: fire 
mounteth upward, so every spark to its own 
element. Where the aim and bent of the soul is 
Godwards, there is grace, though opposed. The 
least measure of it is holy desires springing from 
faith and love, for we cannot desire anything 

and Smoking Flax. 59 

which we do not believe first to be, and the 
desire of it issues from love. Hence desires are 
counted a part of the thing desired in some 
measure ; but then they must he^ firsts constant , 
for constancy shews that they are supernaturally 
natural, and not enforced ; secondly ^ they must be 
carried to spiritual things^ as to believe, to love 
God, etc. : not out of a special exigent, because, 
if now they had grace, they think they might 
escape some danger, but as a loving heart is 
carried to the thing loved for some excellency in 
itself; and thirdly ^vf\^ desire there is grief when 
it is hindered, which stirs up to prayer: "Oh, 
that my ways were so directed, that I might 
keep thy statutes !" Ps. cxix. 5 ; O miserable man 
that I am, who shall deliver ? etc., Rom. vii. 24 ; 
fourthly y desires put us onward still : Oh, that I 
might serve God with more liberty ; Oh, that I 
were more free from these offensive, unsavoury, 
noisome lusts ! 

10. Tenthly, fire worketh itself, if it hath any 
matter to feed on, into a larger compass, and 
mounteth higher and higher, and the higher it 
riseth, the purer is the flame ; so where true; 
grace is, it groweth in measure and purity. 
Smoking flax will grow to a flame ; and as it 
increaseth, so it worketh out the contrary, and 

6o The Bruised Reed 

refineth itself more and more. IgniSy quo magis 
lucety 60 minus fumat Therefore, it argueth a 
false heart to set ourselves a measure in grace, 
and to rest in beginnings, alleging that Christ 
will not quench the smoking flax. But this 
merciful disposition in Christ is joined with per- 
fect holiness, shewed in perfect hatred to sin ; for 
rather than sin should not have its deserved 
punishment, himself became a sacrifice for sin, 
wherein his Father's holiness and his own most 
of all shined. And, besides this, in the work of 
sanctification, though he favours his work in us, 
yet favours Tie not sin in us ; for he will never 
take his hand from his work, until he hath taken 
away sin, even in its very being, from our natures. 
The same spirit that purified that blessed mass 
whereof he was made, cleanseth us by degrees to 
be suitable to so holy a head, and frameth the 
judgment and affection of all to whom he sheweth 
mercy, to concur with his own, in labouring to 
further his ends, in abolishing of sin out of our 

Chap. XII. — Scruples hindering comfort removed. 

Use, From the meditation of these rules and 
signs, much comfort may be brought into the 

and Smoking Flax. 6i 

souls of the weakest ; which, that it may be in 
the more abundance, let me add something for 
the helping them over some few ordinary- 
objections and secret thoughts against them- 
selves, which, getting within the heart, often- 
times keep them under. 

1. Some think they have no faith at all, 
because they have no full assurance ; whenas the 
fairest fire that can be will have some smoke. 
The best actions will smell of the smoke. The 
mortar wherein garlic hath been stamped will 
always smell of it ; so all our actions will savour 
something of the old man. 

2. In weakness of body some think grace dieth, 
because their performances are feeble, their spirits, 
being the instruments of their souls' actions, being 
wasted ; not considering that God regards those 
hidden sighs of those that want abilities to 
express them outwardly. He that pronounceth 
them blessed that consider the poor, will have a 
merciful consideration of such himself. 

3. Some again are haunted with hideous 
representations to their fantasies, and with vile 
and unworthy thoughts of God, of Christ, of the 
Word, etc., which, as busy flies, disquiet and 
molest their peace ; these are cast in like wildfire 
by Satan, as may be discerned by the (i) strange- 


The Bruised Reed 

ness, (2) strength and violence, (3) horribleness 
of them even unto nature corrupt. Vellum 
servari Domine^ sed cogitationes non patiuntur. 
A pious soul IS no more guilty of them, than 
Benjamin of Joseph's cup put into his sack. 
Amongst other helps prescribed by godly writers, 
as abomination of them, and diversion from them 
to other things, etc., let this be one, to complain 
unto Christ against them, and to fly under the 
wings of his protection, and to desire him to take 
. our part against his and our enemy. Shall every 
sin and blasphemy of man be forgiven, and not 
these blasphemous thoughts, which have the 
devil for their father, when Christ himself was 
therefore molested in this kind, that he might 
succour all poor souls in the like case ? 

But there is a difference betwixt Christ and us 
in this case, by reason that Satan had nothing of 
his own in Christ, his suggestions left no 
impression at all in his holy nature; but, as 
sparks falling into the sea, were presently 
quenched. Satan's temptations of Christ were 
only suggestions on Satan's part, and appre- 
hensions of the vileness of them on Christ's part. 
To apprehend ill suggested by another, is not ill. 
It was Christ's grievance, but Satan's sin. But 
thus he yielded himself to be tempted, that he 

and Smoking Flax. 63 

might both pity us in our conflicts, and train us 
up to manage our spiritual weapons as he did. 
Christ could have overcome him by power, but 
he did it by argument. But when Satan cometh 
to us, he findeth something of his own in us, 
which holdeth correspondency and hath intelli- 
gence with him ; there is the same enmity in our 
nature to God and goodness in some degree, that 
is in Satan himself; whereupon his temptations 
fasten for the most part some taint upon us. 
And if there wanted a devil to suggest, yet 
sinful thoughts would arise from within us ; 
though none were cast in from without, we have 
a mint of them within : these thoughts, morosa 
cogitdtiOy if the soul dwell on them so long as to 
suck or draw from and by them any sinful 
delight, then they leave a more heavy guilt upon 
the soul, and hinder our sweet communion with 
God, and interrupt our peace, and put a con- 
trary relish into the soul, disposing of it to 
greater sins.- All scandalous breakings out are 
but thoughts at the first. Ill thoughts are as 
little thieves, which, creeping in at the window, 
open the door to greater ; thoughts are seeds of 
actions. . These, especially when they are helped 
forward by Satan, make the life of many good 
Christians almost a martyrdom. In this case it 


The Bruised Reed 

is an unsound comfort that some minister, that 
ill thoughts arise from nature, and what is 
natural is excusable; but we must know, that 
nature, as it came out of God's hands at the first, 
had no such risings out of it: the soul, as 
inspired of God, had no such unsavoury breath- 
ings ; but since that by sin it betrayed itself, it 
is in some sort natural to it to forge sinful 
imaginations, and to be a furnace of such sparks ; 
and this is an aggravation of the sinfulness of 
natural corruption, that it is so deeply rooted, 
and so generally spread in our nature. 

It furthereth humiliation to know the whole 
breadth and depth of sin ; only this, that our 
nature now, so far as it is unrenewed, is so 
unhappily fruitful in ill thoughts, ministers this 
comfort, that it is not our case alone, as if our 
condition herein were severed from others, as 
some have been tempted to think, even almost to 
despair ; none, say they, have such a loathsome 
nature as I have. This springs from ignorance 
of the spreading of original sin, for what can 
come from an unclean thing, but that which is 
unclean ? " As in the water face answers face, so 
the polluted heart of one man answereth to the 
heart of another," Prov. xxvii. 19, where grace 
hath not made some difference. As in annoy- 

ances from Satan, so here, the best way is to lay 
open our complaints to Christ, and cry with St. 
Paul, Domine simpatioTy " O miserable man that 
I am, who shall deliver me from this body of 
death ?" Rom. vii. 24, 25 : upon this venting of 
his distressed soul, he presently found comfort ; 
for he breaketh into thanksgiving, " Thanks be 
to God," etc. And it is good to take advantage 
from hence to hate this noisome body of death 
the more, and to draw nearer unto God, as that 
holy man after his " foolish and beastly 
thoughts," Ps. Ixxiii. 22 and 28, did, and to keep 
our hearts closer to God, seasoning them with 
heavenly meditations in the morning, storing 
up good matter that our heart may be a good 
treasury, and begging of Christ his Holy Spirit 
to stop that cursed issue, and to be a living 
spring of better thoughts in us. Nothing more 
abaseth the spirits of holy men that desire to 
delight in God after they have escaped the 
common defilements of the world, than these 
unclean issues of spirit, as being most contrary 
to God, who is a pure Spirit: but the very 
irksomeness of them yields matter of comfort 
against them ; they force the soul to all spiritual 
exercises, to watchfulness, and a more near 
walking with God, and to raise itself to thoughts 


The Bruised Reed 

of a higher nature, which the truth of God, 
works of God, communion of saints, the mystery 
of godliness, the consideration of the terror of 
the Lord, of the excellency of the state of a 
Christian, and conversation suitable, do abun- 
dantly minister. They discover to us a necessity 
of daily purging and pardoning grace, and of 
seeking to be found in Christ, and so bring the 
best often upon their knees. 

But our chief comfort is, that our blessed 
Saviour, as he bade S^tan avaunt from himself 
after he had given way awhile to his impudency. 
Matt. iv. ID ; so he will command him to be gone 
from us, when it shall be good for us ; he must 
be gone at a word. And he can and will likewise 
in his due time rebuke the rebellious and extrava- 
gant stirrings of our hearts, and bring all the 
thoughts of the inner man in subjection to himself. 

4. S6me think, when they begin once to be 
troubled with the smoke of corruption more than 
they were before, therefore they are worse than 
they were. It is true, that corruptions appear 
now more than before, but they are less. 

For, first, sin^ the more it is seen the more it is 
hated, and thereupon is the less. Motes are in 
a room before the sun shines, but they then only 

and Smoking Flax. 


Secondly, contraries, the nearer they are one 
to another, the sharper is the conflict betwixt 
them : now of all enemies the spirit and the flesh 
are nearest one to another, being both in the soul 
of a regenerate man, and in faculties of the soul, 
and in every action that springeth from those 
faculties, and therefore it is no marvel the soul, 
the seat of this battle, thus divided in itself, be as 
smoking flax. 

Thirdly, the more grace, the more spiritual 
life, and the more spiritual life, the more an- 
tipathy to the contrary; when none are so 
sensible of corruption, as those that have the 
most living souls. 

And fourthly, when men give themiSelves to 
carnal liberties, their corruptions trouble them not, 
as not being bound and tied up ; but when once 
grace suppresseth their extravagant and licentious 
excesses, then the flesh boileth, as disdaining to 
be confined ; yet they arei better now than they 
were before. That matter which yields smoke 
was in the torch before it was lighted ; but it is 
not offensive till the torch begins to burn. Let 
such know, that if the smoke be once offensive 
to them, it is a sign that there is light. It is 
better to enjoy the benefit of light, though with 
smoke, than to be altogether in the dark. 

68 The Bruised Reed 

Neither is smoke so offensive, as light is com- 
fortable to us, it yielding an evidence of truth of 
grace in the heart ; therefore, though it be cum- 
bersome in the conflict, yet it is comfortable in 
the evidence. It is better corruption should 
offend us now, than by giving way to it to redeem 
a little peace with loss of comfort afterwards. 
Let such, therefore, as are at variance and odds 
with their corruptions, look upon this text as 
their portion of comfort. 

Chap. XIII. — Set upon Duties notwithstanding 


Here is a use of encouragement to duty, that 
Christ will not quench the smoking flax, but blow 
it up. Some are loth to perform good duties, 
because they feel their hearts rebelling, and duties 
come off untowardly. We should not avoid good 
actions for the infirmities cleaving unto them. 
Christ looketh more at the good in them that he 
meaneth to cherish, than the ill in them that he 
meaneth to abolish. A sick man, though in eat- 
ing he something increaseth the disease, yet he 
will eat, that nature may get strength against the 
disease ; so though sin cleaveth to what we do, 
yet let us do it, since we have to deal with so 

and Smoking Flax, 69 

good a Lord, and the more strife we meet withal, 
the more acceptance. Christ loveth to taste of 
the good fruits that come from us, although they 
will always relish of the old stock. A Christian 
complaineth he cannot pray. Oh, I am troubled 
with so many distracting thoughts, and never 
more than now. But hath he put into thine 
heart a desire to pray ? He will hear the desires 
of his own Spirit in thee. " We know not what 
to pray for as we ought " (nor do anything else 
as we ought), " but the Spirit helpeth our infirmi- 
ties, with inexpressible sighs and groans," Rom. 
viii. 26, which are not hid from God. "My 
groanings are not hid from thee," Ps. xxxviii. 9. 
God can pick sense out of a confused prayer. 
These desires cry louder in his ears than thy sins. 
Sometimes a Christian hath such confused 
thoughts, he can say nothing, but as a child 
crieth, O Father, not able to shew what it needs, 
as Moses at the Red Sea. 

These stirrings of spirit touch the bowels of 
God, and melt him into compassion towards us, 
when they come from the spirit of adoption, and 
from a striving to be better. 

Object. Oh, but is it possible, thinketh the 
misgiving heart, that so holy a God should accept 
such a prayer ? 


The Bruised Reed 

Ans. Yes, he will accept that which is his 
own, and pardon that which is ours. "Jonah 
prayed in the whale's belly," Jonah ii. i, being 
burdened with the guilt of sin, yet God heareth 
him. Let not, therefore, infirmities discourage 
us. St. James takes away this objection, v. 17. 
Some might object. If I were as holy as EHas, 
then my prayers might be regarded ; but, saith 
he, " Elias was a man of like passions to us," he 
had his passions as well as we ; for do we think 
that God heard him because he was without fault? 
No, surely. But look we to the promises.: " Call 
upon me in the day of trouble, and I will hear 
thee," Ps. 1. 1 5 ; " Ask and ye shall receive," Matt, 
vii. 7 ; and such like. God accepteth our prayers, 
though weak. i. Because we are his own 
children, they come from his own Spirit. 2. Be- 
cause they are according to his own will. 3. 
Because they are offered in Christ's mediation, 
and he takes them, and mingleth them with his 
own odours, Rev. viii. 3. There is never a holy 
sigh, never a tear we shed, lost. And as every 
grace increaseth by exercise of itself, so doth the 
grace of prayer. By prayer we learn to pray. 
So, likewise, we should take heed of a spirit of 
discouragement in all other holy duties, since we 
have so gracious a Saviour. Pray as we are able. 

and Smoking Flax. 


hear as we are able, strive as we are able, do as 
we are able, according to the measure of g^ace 
received. God in Christ will cast a gracious eye 
upon that which is his own. Would St. Paul do 
nothing, because " he could not do the good he 
would ?" Phil. iii. 14. Yes, he " pressed to the 
mark." Let us not be cruel to ourselves when 
Christ is thus gracious. 

There is a certain meekness of spirit whereby 
we yield thanks to God for any ability at all, and 
rest quiet with the measure of grace received, 
seeing it is God's good pleasure it should be so, 
who giveth the will and the deed, yet so as we 
rest not from further endeavours. But when, 
upon faithful endeavour, we come short of that 
we would be, and short of that others are, then 
know for our comfort, Christ will not quench the 
smoking flax, and that sincerity and truth, as 
before was said, with endeavour of growth, is our 
perfection. It is comfortable what God saith, 
" He only shall go to his grave in peace, because 
there is some goodness," i Kings xiv. 13 ; though 
but some goodness. " Lord, I believe," Mark ix. 
24, with a weak faith, yet with faith ; love thee 
with a faint love, yet with love ; endeavour in a 
feeble manner, yet endeavour. A little fire is 
fire, though it smoketh. Since thou hast taken 


The Bruised Reed 

me into thy covenant to be thine of an enemy, 
wilt thou cast me off for these infirmities, which, 
as they displease thee, so are they the grief of my 
own heart ? 

Chap. XIV. — The case of Indisposition resolved, and 


1. From what hath been spoken, with some 
little addition, it will not be difficult to resolve 
that case which some require help in, namely, 
whether we ought to perform duties, our hearts 
being altogether indisposed. For satisfaction we 
must know, i. Our hearts of themselves do linger 
after liberty, and are hardly brought under the 
yoke of duty ; and the more spiritual the duty 
is, the more is their untowardness. Corruption 
getteth ground, for the most part, in every 
neglect. It is as in rowing against the tide, one 
stroke neglected will not be gained in three ; and 
therefore it is good to keep our hearts close to 
duty, and not to hearken unto the excuses they 
are ready to frame. 

2. In the setting upon duty, God strengtheneth 
his own party that he hath in us. We find a 
warmness of heart, and increase of strength, the 
Spirit going along with us, and raising us up by 

and Smoking Flax. 


degrees, until it leaveth us as it were in heaven. 
God often delighteth to take the advantage of 
our indisposition, that he may manifest his work 
the more clearly, and that all the glory of the 
work may be his, whose all the strength is. 

3. Obedience is most direct when there is 
nothing else to sweeten the action. Although 
the sacrifice be imperfect, yet the obedience with 
which it is offered hath acceptance. 

4. That which is won as a spoil from our cor- 
ruptions will have such a degree of comfort 
afterwards, as for the present it hath of cumber. 
Feeling and freeness of spirit is oft reserved 
until duty be discharged ; reward followeth work. 
In and after duty we find that experience of 
God's presence which, without obedience, we may 
long wait for, and yet go without. This hin- 
dereth not the Spirit's freedom in blowing upon 
our souls when it listeth, John iii. %, For we 
speak only of such a state of soul as is becalmed, 
and must row, as it were, against the stream. 
As in sailing, the hand must be to the stern, 
and the eye to the star ; so here, put forth that 
little strength we have to duty, and look up for 
assistance, which the Spirit, as freely, so season- 
ably will afford. 

Caution, (i.) Yet in these duties, that require 

74 The Bruised Reed 

as well the body as the soul, there may be a ces- 
sation till strength be repaired. Whetting doth 
not let, but fit (2.) In sudden passions there 
should be a time to compose and calm the soul, 
and to put the strings in tune. The prophet 
would have a minstrel to bring his soul into 
frame, i Sam. xvi. 16, 17. 

So likewise we are subject to discouragements 
in sufTering, by reason of impatiency in us. Alas ! 
I shall never get through such a cross. But if 
God bring us into the cross, he will be with us 
in the cross, and at length bring us out more 
refined ; we shall lose nothing but dross, Zech. 
xiii. 9. Of our own strength we cannot bear the 
least trouble, and by the Spirit's assistance we 
can bear the greatest The Spirit will join his 
shoulders to help us to bear our infirmities. 
" The Lord will put his hand to heave us up," 
Ps. xxxviL 24. " You have heard of the patience 
of Job," saith James, chap. v. 1 1. We have heard 
likewise of his impatiency too; but it pleased 
God mercifully to overlook that It yields us 
comfort also in desolate conditions, as contagious 
sicknesses, and the like, wherein we are more 
immediately under God's hand. Then Christ 
hath a throne of mercy at our bed's side, and 
numbers our tears and our groans. And, to 

and Smoking Flax. 75 

come to the matter we are now about, the 
Sacrament * it was ordained not for angels, but 
for men ; and not for perfect men, but for weak 
men ; and not for Christ, who is truth itself, to 
bind him, but because we are ready, by reason 
of our guilty and unbelieving hearts, to call 
truth itself into question. Therefore it was not 
enough for his goodness to leave us many pre- 
cious promises, but he giveth us seals to 
strengthen us : and, what though we are not so 
prepared as we should, yet let us pray as Heze- 
kiah did : " The Lord pardon every one that 
prepareth his heart to seek the Lord God of his 
fathers, though he be not cleansed according to 
the purification of the sanctuary," 2 Chron. xxx. 
19. Then we come comfortably to this 'holy 
sacrament, and with much fruit. This should 
jcarry us through all duties with much cheerful- 
ness, that, if we hate our corruptions, and strive 
against them, they shall not be counted ours. - 
It is not I, saith St. Paul, but " sin that dwelleth 
in me," Rom. vii. 17 ; for what displeaseth us 
shall never hurt us, quod nan placet^ non nocet^ 
and we shall be esteemed of God to be that we 
love, and desire, and labour to be. What we 

* This was preached at the Sacrament. 

76 The Bruised Reed 

desire to be we shall be, and what we desire truly 
to conquer we shall conquer ; for God will fulfil 
the desire of them that fear him, Ps. cxlv. 19. 
The desire is an earnest of the thing desired. 
How little encouragement will carry us to the 
affairs of this life ! And yet all the helps God 
offers will hardly prevail with our backward 
natures. Whence are, then, discouragements ? 

1. Not from the Father, for he hath bound 
himself in covenant " to pity us as a father pitieth 
his children," Ps. ciii. 1 3, and to accept as a father 
our weak endeavours ; and what is wanting in 
the strength of duty, he giveth us leave to take 
up in his gracious indulgence, whereby we shall 
honour that grace wherein he delights, as much 
as in more perfect performances. Possibilitas 
tua mensura tua, 

2. Not from Christ, for he by office will not 
quench the smoking flax. We see how Christ 
bestoweth the best fruits of his love upon per- 
sons, for condition mean, for parts weak, for 
infirmities, nay, for grosser falls, offensive : Firsty 
thus it pleaseth him to confound the pride of 
flesh, which usually taketh measure of God's 
love by some outward excellency. Secondly y thus 
he is delighted to shew the freedom of his 
grace and his prerogative royal, that "whoso- 

and Smoking Flax, 7 7 

ever glorieth, may glory in the Lord," i Cor. 

1. 31- 

In the eleventh to the Hebrews, among that 

cloud of witnesses, we see Rahab, Gideon, and 
Samson, ranked with Abraham, the father of the 
faithful, Heb. xi. 31, 32. Our blessed Saviour, 
as he was the image of his Father, so in this he 
was of the same mind, glorifying his Father for 
revealing the mystery of the Gospel to simple 
men, neglecting those that carried the chief repu- 
tation of wisdom in the world, Heb. xi. 31, 32. 

It is not unworthy of the remembering that 
which St. Augustine speaketh of a silly man in 
his time, destitute almost altogether of the use 
of reason, who when he was most patient of all 
injuries done to himself, yet, from a reverence of 
religion, he would not endure any injury done to 
the name of Christ; insomuch that he would 
cast stones at those that blasphemed, and would 
not in that case spare his own governors ; which 
sheweth that the parts of none are so low, as 
that they are beneath the gracious regard of 
Christ ; where it pleaseth him to make his choice, 
and to exalt his mercy, he passeth by no degree 
of wit, though never so plain. 

3. Neither do discouragements come from the 
Spirit; he helps our infirmities, and by office is a 


The Bruised Reed 

Conoforter, Rom. viii. 26, If he convinceth of sin, 
and so humbleth us, it is that he may make way 
to shew his office of comforting us. Discourage- 
ments, then, must come from ourselves and Satan, 
who laboureth to fasten "on us a loathing of duty. 

Chap. XV. — Of Infirmities, No cause of Discourage- 
ment In whom they are. And how to recover 
Pecux lost. 

And among other causes of discouragement, 
some are much vexed with scruples, even against 
the best duties; partly by distemper of body, 
helped by Satan's malice, casting dust in their 
eyes, in their way to heaven ; and partly from 
some remainder of ignorance, which like dark- 
ness breedeth fears ; and as ignorance of other 
things, so especially of this merciful disposition 
in Christ, the persuasion of which would easily 
banish false fears, they conceive of him as one 
sitting at a catch for all advantages against them ; 
wherein they may see how they wrong not only 
themselves but his goodness. This scrupulosity, 
for thie most part, is a sign of a godly soul, as 
some weeds are of a good soil : therefore are they 
the more to be pitied, for it is a heavy affliction, 
and the ground of it in most is not so much from 

and Smoking Flax. 79 

trouble of conscience, as from sickness of fantasy. 
The end of Christ's coming was to free lis from 
all such groundless fears. 

There is still in some, such ignorance of that 
comfortable condition we are in under the cove- 
nant of grace, as by it they are much discouraged. 
Therefore we must know, i. That weaknesses do 
not break covenant with God. They do not 
between husband and wife ; and shall we make 
ourselves more pitiful than Christ, who maketh 
himself a pattern of love to all other husbands } 

2. Weaknesses do not debar us from mercy, 
nay, they incline God the more, Ps. Ixxviii. 39. 
Mercy is a part of the church's jointure, " Christ 
marries her in mercy," Hos. ii. 19. The husband 
is bound to bear with the wife, as " being the 
weaker vessel," i Pet. iii. 7 ; and shall we think 
he will exempt himself from his own rule, and 
not bear with his weak spouse } 

3. If Christ should not be merciful to our 
infirmities, he should not have a people to serve 

Put case therefore, we be very weak, yet 
so long as we are not found amongst malicious 
opposers and underminers of God's truth, let us 
not give way to despairing thoughts ; we have a 
merciful Saviour. But lest we flatter ourselves 


The Bruised Reed 

without ground, we must know that weaknesses 
are accounted either, i, Iniperfections cleaving 
to our best actions ; or, 2, Such actions as pro- 
ceed from want of age in Christ, whilst we are 
babes ; or, 3, From want of strength, where there 
hath been little means ; or, 4, They are sudden 
indeliberate breakings out, contrary to our 
general bent and purpose, whilst our judgment 
is overcast with the cloud of a sudden tempta- 
tion. After which, i. We are sensible of our 
infirmity ; 2, We grieve for it ; 3, And from 
grief, complain ; and 4, With complaining strive 
and labour to reform ; and 5, In labouring get 
some ground of our corruption. 

Weaknesses so considered, howsoever they be 
matter of humiliation, and the object of our daily 
mortification, yet may stand with boldness with 
God, neither is a good work either extinguished 
by them, or tainted so far as to lose all accept- 
ance with God. But to plead for an infirmity 
is more than an infirmity ; to allow ourselves in 
weaknesses is more than a weakness. The justi- 
fication of evil sealeth up the lips, so that the 
soul cannot call God Father with that child-like 
liberty, or enjoy sweet communion with him, 
until peace be made by shaming ourselves, and 
renewing our faith. Those that have ever been 

and Smoking Flax. 


bruised for sin, if they fall they are soon re- 
covered. Peter was recovered with a gracious 
look of Christ ; David by Abigail's words. Tell 
a thief or a vagrant that he is out of the way, 
he regards it not, because his aim is not to walk 
in any certain way, but as it serveth his own 

For the further clearing of this, we must con- 
ceive, I. That wheresoever sins of infirmity are, 
there in that person must be the life of grace 
begun. There can be no weakness, where there 
is no life. 2. There must be a sincere and 
general bent to the best things ; though for a 
sudden a godly man be drawn or driven 
aside in some particulars, yet by reason of that 
interest the Spirit of Christ hath in him, and 
because his aims are right for the main, he 
will either recover of himself, or yield to the 
counsel of others. 3. There must be a right 
judgment allowing of the best ways, or else 
the heart is rotten, and infuseth corruption into 
the whole conversation, so that all, their actions 
become infected at the spring-head ; they justify 
looseness, and condemn God's ways, as too 
much strictness ; their principles whereby they 
work are not good. 4. There must be a con- 
jugal love to Christ, so as upon no terms they 



The Bruised Reed 

will change their Lord and husband, and yield 
themselves absolutely over to be ruled by their 
own lusts, or the lusts of others, 

A Christian's carriage towards Christ may in 
many things be very offensive, and cause some 
strangeness ; yet he will own Christ, and Christ 
him ; he will not resolve upon any way wherein 
he knows he must break with Christ 

Where the heart is thus in these respects 
qualified, there we must know this, that Christ 
counteth it his honour to pass by many in- 
firmities ; nay, in infirmities he perfecteth his 
strength. There be some almost invincible 
infirmities, as forgetfulness, heaviness of spirit, 
sudden passions, fears, etc., which, though natural, 
yet are for the most part tainted with sin ; of 
these, if the life of Christ be in us, we are weary, 
and would fain shake them off, as a sick man 
his ague; otherwise it is not to be esteemed 
weakness so much as wilfulness, and the more 
will, the more sin ; and little sins, when God 
shall awake the conscience, and "set them in 
order before us," Ps, 1, 21, will prove great 
burdens, and not only bruise a reed, but shake 
a cedar. Yet God's children never sin with full 
will, because there is a contrary law of the mind, 
whereby the dominion of sin is broken, which 

and Smoking Flax. 


always hath some secret working against the 
law of sin. Notwithstanding there may be so 
much will in a sinful action, as may wonderfully 
waste our comfort afterward, and keep us long 
upon the rack of a disquieted conscience, God 
in his fatherly dispensation suspending the sense 
of his love. So much as we give way to our 
will in sinning, in such a measure of distance 
we set ourselves from comfort. Sin against 
conscience is as a thief in the candle, which 
wasteth our joy, and thereby weakeneth our 
strength. We must know, therefore, that wilful 
breaches in sanctification will much hinder the 
sense of our justification. 

Quest, What course shall such take to recover 
their peace ? 

Ans. Such must give a sharp sentence against 
themselves, and yet cast themselves upon God's 
mercy in Christ, as at their first conversion; 
And now they had need to clasp about Christ 
the faster, as they see more need in themselves, 
and let them remember the mildness of Christ 
here, that will not quench the smoking flax. 
Ofttimes we see that, after a deep humiliation, 
Christ speaks more peace than before, to witness 
the truth of this reconciliation, because he knows 
Satan's enterprises in casting down such lower. 


The Bruised Reed 

and because such are most abased in themselves, 
and are ashamed to look Christ in the face, by 
reason of their unkindness. We see God did 
not only pardon David, but after much bruising 
gave him wise Solomon to succeed him in the 
kingdom. We see in the Canticles, chap. vi. 44, 
that the Church after she had been humbled for 
her slighting of Christ, Christ sweetly entertains 
her again, and falleth into commendation of her 
beauty. We must know for our comfort that 
Christ was not anointed to this great work of 
the Mediator for lesser sins only, but for the 
greatest, if we have but a spark of true faith to 
lay hold on him. Therefore, if there be any 
bruised reed, let him not except himself, when 
Christ doth not except him ; " Come unto me 
all ye that are weary and heavy laden," etc., 
Matt xi. 28. Why should we not make use of 
so gracious a disposition } we are only therefore 
poor, because we know not our riches in Christ 
In time of temptation, rather believe Christ than 
the devil, believe truth from truth itself, hearken 
not to a liar, an enemy, and a murderer. 

and Smoking Flax. 85 

Chap. XVI. — Satan not to be believed^ as Jie representeth 

Christ unto us. 

Since Christ is thus comfortably set out unto 
us, let us not believe Satan's representations of 
him. When we are troubled in conscience for 
our sins, his manner is then to present him to 
the afflicted soul as a most severe judge, armed 
with justice against us. But then let us present 
him to our souls, as thus offered to our view 
by God himself, as holding out a sceptre of 
mercy, and • spreading his arms to receive us. 
When we think of Joseph, Daniel, John the 
Evangelist, etc., we frame conceits of them with 
delight, as of mild and sweet persons ; much 
more when we think of Christ, we should con- 
ceive of him as a mirror of all meekness. If the 
sweetness of all flowers were in one, how sweet 
must that flower needs be ? In Christ all per- 
fections of mercy and love meet ; how great 
then must that mercy be that lodgeth in so 
gracious a heart ? whatsoever tenderness is scat- 
tered in husband, father, brother, head, all is 
but a beam from him, it is in him in the most 
eminent manner. We are weak, but we are 
his ; we are deformed, but yet carry his image 
upon us. A father looks not so much at the 


The Bruised Reed 

blemishes of his child, as at his own nature in 
him ; so Christ finds matter of love from that 
which is his own in us. He sees his own nature 
in us : we are diseased, but yet his members. 
Who ever neglected his own members because 
they were sick or weak? none ever hated his 
own flesh. Can the head forget the members } 
can Christ forget himself? we are his fulness, 
as he is ours. He was love itself clothed with 
man's nature, which he united so near to himself, 
that he might communicate his goodness the 
more freely unto us ; and took not our nature 
when it was at the best, but when it was abased, 
with all natural and common infirmities it was 
subject unto. Let us therefore abhor all suspi- 
cious thoughts, as either cast in or cherished by 
that damned spirit, who as he laboured to divide 
between the Father and the Son by jealousies, 
" If thou be the Son of God," etc.. Matt. iv. 6, so 
his daily study is, to divide betwixt the Son and 
us, by breeding mispersuasions in us of Christ, 
as if there were not such tender love in him to 
such as we are. It was his art from the begin- 
ning to discredit God with man, by calling God's 
love into question, with our first father Adam ; 
his success then makes him ready at that 
weapon still. 

and Smoking Flax, 87 

Object, But for all this, I feel not Christ so to 
me, saith the smoking flax, but rather the clean 
contrary ; he seemeth to be an enemy unto me, 
I see and feel evidences of his just displeasure. 

Ans, Christ may act the part of an enemy a 
little while, as Joseph did, but it is to make way 
for acting his own part of mercy in a more 
seasonable time ; he cannot hold in his bowels 
long. He seemeth to wrestle with us, as with 
Jacob, but he supplies us with hidden strength, 
at length to get the better. Faith pulls off the 
vizard from his face, and sees a loving heart 
under contrary appearances. Fiddes Christo 
larvam detrahit. At first he arlswers the woman 
of Canaan crying after him not a word ; 2, Then 
gives her a denial ; 3, Gives an answer tending 
to her reproach, calling her dog, as being without 
the covenant; yet she would not be so beaten 
off, for she considered the end of his coming. 
As his father was never nearer him in strength 
to support him, than when he was furthest off 
in sense of favour to comfort him ; so Christ is 
never nearer us in power to uphold us, than 
when he seemeth most to hide his presence 
from us. The influence of the Sun of Righteous- 
ness pierceth deeper than his light. In such 
cases, whatsoever Christ's present carriage \t 

88 The Bruised Reed 

towards us, let us oppose his nature and office 
against it ; he cannot deny himself, he cannot 
but discharge the office his Father hath laid 
upon him. We see here the Father hath under- 
taken that he shall not "quench the smoking 
flax ; " and Christ again undertaking for us to 
the Father, appearing before him for us, until he 
presents us blameless before him, John xvii. 6, 
II. The Father hath given us to Christ, and 
Christ giveth us back again to the Father. 

Object This were good comfort, if I were but 
as smoking flax. 

Ans. It is well that thy objection pincheth 
upon thyself, and not upon Christ ; it is well 
thou givest him the honour of his mercy towards 
others, though not to thyself: but yet do not 
wrong the work of his Spirit in thy heart Satan, 
as he slandereth Christ to us, so he slandereth 
us to ourselves. If thou be not so much as 
smoking flax, then why dost thou not renounce 
thy interest in Christ, and disclaim die covenant 
of grace ? This thou darest not do. Why dost 
thou not give up thyself wholly to other con- 
tents? This thy spirit will not suffer thee. 
Whence come these restless groanings and com- 
plaints? lay this thy present estate, together 
with this office of Christ to such, and do not 

and Smoking Flax. 89 

despise the consolation of the Almighty, nor 
refuse thy own mercy. Cast thyself into the 
arms of Christ, and if thou perishest, perish 
there ; if thou dost not, thou art sure to perish. 
If mercy be to be found anywhere, it is there. 
Herein appears Christ*s care to thee, that he 
hath given thee a heart in some degree sensible: 
he might have given thee up to hardness, secu- 
rity, and profaneness of heart, of all spiritual 
judgments the greatest. He that died for his 
enemies, will he refuse those, the desire of whose 
soul is towards him } He that by his messengers 
desires us to be reconciled, will he put us off 
when we earnestly seek it at his hand ? No, 
doubtless, when he prevents us by kindling holy 
desires in us, he is ready to meet us in his own 
ways. When the prodigal set himself to return 
to his father, his father stays not for him, but 
meets him in the way. "When he prepares 
the heart to seek, he will cause his ear to hear," 
Ps. X. 17. He cannot find in his heart to hide 
himself long from us. If God should bring us 
into such a dark condition, as that we should 
see no light from himself, or the creature, then 
let us remember what he saith by the prophet 
Isaiah, " He that is in darkness, and seeth no 
light," Isa. 1. 10, no light of comfort, no light of 

go The Bruised Reed 

God's countenance, "yet let him trust in the 
name of the Lord." We can never be in such 
a condition, wherein there will be just cause of 
titter despair ; therefore let us do as mariners 


do, cast anchor in the dark. Christ knows how 
to pity us in this case ; look what comfort he 
felt from his Father in his breakings, Isa. liii. 
5, the like we shall feel from himself in our 

The sighs of a bruised heart carry in them 
some report, as of our affection to Christ, so of 
his care to us. The eyes of our souls cannot be 
towards him, but that he hath cast a gracious 
look upon us first. The least love we have to 
him is but a reflection of his love first shining 
upon us. As Christ did in his example whatso- 
ever he gives us in charge to do, so he suffered 
in his own person whatsoever he calleth us to 
suffer, that he might the better learn to relieve 
and pity us in- our sufferings. In his desertion 
in the garden, and upon the cross, he was con- 
tent to want that unspeakable solace in the 
presence of his Father, both to bear the wrath of 
the Lord for a time for us, and likewise to know 
the better how to comfort us in our greatest 
extremities. God seeth it fit we should taste of 
that cup of which his Son drank so deep, that 

and Smoking Flax. 


we might feel a little what sin is, and what his 
Son's love was ; but our comfort is, that Christ 
drank the dregs of the cup for us, and will 
succour us, that our spirits utterly fail not under 
that little taste of his displeasure which we may 
feel. He became not only a man, but a curse, a 
man of sorrows for us. He was broken, that we 
should not be broken ; he was troubled, that we 
should not be desperately troubled ; he became 
a curse, that we should not be accursed. What- 
soever may be wished for in an all-sufficient 
Comforter is all to be found in Christ, i. 
Authority from the Father, all power was given 
him, Matt xxviiL 18. 2. Strength in himself, as 
having his name the mighty God, Isa. ix. 6. 
3. Wisdom, and that from his own experience, 
how and when to help. 4. Willingness, as being 
flesh of our flesh, and bone of our bone, Isa. 
ix. 6. 

Chap. XVIL — Reproof of such as sin against this 
merciful disposition in Christ, Of quenching the 

We are now to take notice of divers sorts of 
men that oflend deeply against this merciful dis- 
position of Christ : as, I. Such as go on in all ill 


The Bruised Reed 

courses of life upon this conceit, as if it were in 
vain to go to Christ, their lives have been so ill ; 
whenas, so soon as we look to heaven, all en- 
couragements are ready to meet us and draw us 
forward. Amongst others this is one allurement, 
that Christ is ready to welcome us, and lead us 
further. None are damned in the church but 
those that will. Such as either enforce upon 
themselves hard conceits of Christ, that they 
may have some show of reason to fetch content- 
ment from other things : as that unprofitable 
servant. Matt xxv. 30, that would needs take up 
a conceit that his master was a hard man ; here- 
by to flatter himself in his unfruitful courses, in 
not improving that talent which he had. 

2. Such as take up a hope of their own, that 
Christ will suffer them to walk in the ways to 
hell, and yet bring them to heaven : whereas all 
comfort should draw us nearer to Christ, else it 
is a lying comfort, either in itself or in our 
application of it. 

And 3. Those that will cast water themselves 
upon those sparks which Christ labours to kindle 
in them, because they will not be troubled with 
the light of them. 

Such must know that the Lamb can be angry, 
and they that will not come under his sceptre of 

and Smoking Flax. 93 

mercy, shall be crushed in pieces by his sceptre 
of power, Ps. ii. 9. Though he will graciously 
tender and maintain the least spark of true grace, 
yet where he findeth not the spark of g^ce, but 
opposition to his Spirit striving with them, his 
wrath once kindled shall bum to hell. There 
is no juster provocation than when kindness is 
churlishly refused. 

When God would have cured Babylon, and 
she would not be cured, then she was given up 
to destruction, Jer. li. 9. 

When Jerusalem would not be gathered under 
the wing of Christ, then their habitation is left 
desolate. Matt, xxiii, 37, 38. 

When Wisdom stretcheth out her hand and 
men refuse, then Wisdom will laugh at men's 
destruction, Prov. i. 26. 

Salvation itself will not save those that spill 
the potion, and cast away the planter. A pitiful 
case, when this merciful Saviour shall delight in 
destruction : when he that made men shall have 
no mercy on them, Isa. xxvii. 11. 

Oh, say the rebels of the time, God hath not 
made us to damn us. Yes, if you will not meet 
Christ in the ways of his mercy, it is fit you 
should "eat the fruit of your own ways, and 
be filled with your own devices," Prov. i. 31. 


The Bruised Reed 

This will be the hell of hell, when men shall 
think, that they have loved their sins more than 
their souls ; when they shall think, what love and 
mercy hath been almost enforced upon them, 
and yet they would perish. The more accessory 
we are in pulling a judgment upon ourselves, 
the more the conscience will be confounded 
in itself, when they shall acknowledge Christ 
to be without all blame, themselves without 

If men appeal to their own consciences, they 
will tell them, the Holy Spirit hath often knocked 
at their hearts, as willing to have kindled some 
holy desires in them. How else can they be said 
to resist the Holy Ghost, but that the Spirit was 
readier to draw them to a further degree of good- 
ness than stood with their own wills ? whereupon 
those in the church that are damned are self- 
condemned before. So that here we need not 
rise to higher causes, when men carry sufficient 
cause in their own bosoms. 

4. And the best of us all may offend against 
this merciful disposition, if we be not watchful 
against that liberty our carnal disposition will 
be ready to take from it Thus we reason, if 
Christ will not quench the smoking flax, what 
need we fear, that any neglect on our part can 

and Smoking Flax. 95 

bring us under a comfortless condition ? If 
Christ will not do it, what can ? 

Ans, You know the apostle's prohibition 
notwithstanding, i Thess. v. 19, " Quench not the 
Spirit" These cautions of not quenching are 
sanctified by the Spirit as means of not quench- 
ing, Christ performeth his office in not quench- 
ing, by stirring up suitable endeavours in us ; 
and none more solicitous in the use of the means 
than those that are most certain of the good 
success. The ground is this : the means that 
God hath set apart for the effecting of anything, 
fall under the same purpose that he hath to bring 
that thing to pass ; and this is a principle taken 
for granted, even in civil matters ; as who, if he 
knew before it would be a fruitful year, would 
therefore hang up his plough and neglect 
tillage ? 

Hence the apostle stirs up from the certain 
expectation of a blessing, i Cor. xv. 57, 58, 
and this encouragement here from the good 
issue of final victory is intended to stir us up, 
and not to take us off. If we be negligent in 
the exercise of grace received, and use of means 
prescribed, suffering our spirits to be oppressed 
with multitudes and variety of cares of this life, 
and take not heed of the danips of the times, for 

96 The Bruised Reed 

such miscarriage God in his wise care suffereth 
us oft to fall into a worse condition for feeling, 
than those that were never so much enlightened. 
Yet in mercy he will not suffer us to be so far 
enemies to ourselves, as wholly to neglect these 
sparks once kindled. Were it possible that we 
should be given up to give over all endeavour 
wholly, then we could look for no other issue 
but quenching ; but Christ will tend this spark, 
and cherish this small seed, so as he will preserve 
in the soul always some degree of care. If we 
would make a comfortable use of this, we must 
consider all those means whereby Christ doth 
preserve grace begun ; as first, holy communion, 
whereby one Christian heateth another ; " two 
are better than one," etc., Eccles. iv. 9. " Did 
not our hearts burn ?" Luke xxiv. 32, said the 
disciples. Secondly y much more communion with 
God in holy duties, as meditation and prayer, 
which doth not only kindle, but addeth a lustre 
to the soul. Thirdly, We feel by experience the 
breath of the Spirit to go along with the minis- 
terial breath, whereupon the apostle knits these 
two together : "Quench not the Spirit;" "Despise 
not prophecies," i Thess. v. 19, 20. Nathan by a 
few words blew up the decaying sparks in David. 
Rather than God will suffer his fire in us to die 

and Smoking Flax. 


he will send some Nathan or other, and some- 
thing always is i left in us to join with the word 
as connatural to it ; as a coal that hath fire in it 
will quickly catch more to it : smoking flax will 
easily take fire. Fourthly y grace is strengthened 
by the exercise of it ; " Up and be doing, and 
the Lord be with thee," i Chron. xxii. i6, said 
David to his son Solomon: stir up the grace 
that is in thee, for so holy motions turn to reso- 
lutions, resolutions to practice, and practice to a 
prepared readiness to every good work. 

Caution. Yet let us know Ihat grace is in- 
creased in the exercise of it, not by virtue of the 
exercise itself, but as Christ by his Spirit floweth 
into the soul, and bringeth us nearer unto him- 
self the fountain, and instilleth such comfort in 
the act, whereby the heart is further enlarged. 
The heart of a Christian is Christ's garden, and 
his graces are as so many sweet spices and 
flowers, which his Spirit blowing upon makes 
them to send forth a sweet savour: therefore 
keep the soul open for entertainment of the Holy 
Ghost, for he will bring in continually fresh 
forces to subdue corruption, and this most of all 
on the Lord's day. John was in the Spirit on 
the Lord's day, even in Patmos, the place of his 
banishment. Rev. i. lo ; then the gales of the 



The Bruised Reed 

Spirit blow more strongly and sweetly. As we 
look, therefore, for the comfort of this doctrine, 
let us not favour our natural sloth, " but exercise 
ourselves to godliness," i Tim. iv. 7, and labour 
to keep this fire always burning upon the altar 
of our hearts, and dress our lamps daily, and put 
in fresh oil, and wind up our souls higher and 
higher still : resting in a good condition is contrary 
to grace, which cannot but promote itself to a 
further measure ; let none turn this " grace into 
wantonness," Jude 4. Infirmities are a ground 
of humility, not a plea for negligence, not an 
encouragement to presumption. We should be 
so far from being ill, because Christ is good, as 
that those coals of love should melt us ; there- 
fore those may well suspect themselves in whom 
the consideration of this mildness of Christ doth 
not work that way : surely where grace is, cor- 
ruption is as " smoke to their eyes, and vinegar to 
their teeth," Prov. x. 29. And therefore they 
will labour in regard of their own comfort, as 
likewise for the credit of religion, and the glory 
of God, that their light may break forth. If a 
spark of faith and love be so precious, what an 
honour will it be to be rich in faith ! Who would 
not rather walk in the light, and in the comforts 
of the Holy Ghost, than to live in a dark per- 

and Smoking Flax. 


plexed estate ? and not rather to be carried with 
full sail to heaven, than to be tossed always with 
fears and doubts ? The present trouble in con- 
flict against a sin is not so much as that disquiet 
which any corruption favoured will bring upon 
us afterward ; true peace is in conquering, not 
in yielding. The comfort in this text intended 
is for those that would fain do better, but find 
their corruptions clog them ; that are in such a 
mist, that ofttimes they cannot tell what to think 
of themselves ; that fain would believe, and yet 
oft fear they do not believe, and think that it 
cannot be that God should be so good to such 
sinful wretches as they are ; and yet they allow 
not themselves in these fears and doubts. 

5. And among others, how do they wrong 
themselves and him, that will have other media- 
tors to God for them than he ? Are any more 
pitiful than he, who became man to that end, 
that he might be pitiful to his own flesh ? Let 
all at all times repair to this meek Saviour, and 
put up all our suits in his prevailing name. What 
need we knock iat any other door ? can any be 
more tender over us than Christ? What en- 
couragement have we to commend the state of 
the church in general, or of any broken-hearted 
Christian, unto him by our prayers ? Of whom 

lOO The Bruised Reed 

we may speak unto Christ, as they of Lazarus, 
Lord, the church which thou lovest, and gavest 
thyself for, is in distress : Lord, this poor Chris- 
tian, for whom thou wert bruised, Isa. liii. 5, is 
bruised and brought very low. It cannot but 
touch his bowels when the misery of his own 
dear bowels is spread before him. 

6. Again, considering this gracious nature in 
Christ, let us think with ourselves thus : when he 
is so kind unto us, shall we be cruel against him 
in his name, in his truth, in his children ? how 
shall those that delight to be so terrible " to the 
meek of the earth," Zech. ii. 3, hope to look so 
gracious a Saviour in the face ? they that are so 
boisterous towards his spouse, shall know one 
day they had to deal with himself in his church. 
So it cannot but cut the heart of those that have 
felt this love of Christ, to hear him wounded who 
is the life of their lives, and the soul of their 
souls : this maketh those that have felt mercy 
weep over Christ, whom they have pierced with 
their sins. There cannot but be a mutual and 
quick sympathy between the head and the mem- 
bers. When we are tempted to any sin, if we 
will not pity ourselves, yet we should spare 
Christ, in not putting him to new torments. The 
apostle could not find out a more heart-breaking 

and Smoking Flax. i o i 

argument to enforce a sacrificing ourselves to 
God, than to conjure us by the mercies of God 
in Christ, Rom. xii. i. 

7. This mercy of Christ likewise should move 
us to commiserate the state of the poor church, 
torn by enemies without, and rending itself by 
divisions at home. It cannot but work upon 
any soul that ever felt comfort from Christ, to 
consider what an affectionate entreaty the apostle 
useth to mutual agreement in judgment and 
affection. " If any consolation in Christ, if any 
comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, 
if any bowels and mercies, fulfil my joy, be like- 
minded," Phil. ii. I ; as if he should say. Unless 
you will disclaim all consolation in Christ, etc, 
labour to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the 
bond of peace. What a joyful spectacle is this 
to Satan and his faction, to see those that are 
separated from the world fall in pieces among 
themselves ! Our discord is our enemy's melody. 

The more to blame those that for private aims 
affect differences from others, and will not suffer 
the wounds of the church to close and meet 
together. Which must not be understood, as if 
men should dissemble their judgment in any 
truth where there is just cause of expressing 
themselves ; for the least truth is Christ's and 

1 02 The Bruised Reed 

not ours, and therefore we are not to take 
liberty to affirm or deny at our pleasures. There 
IS a due in a penny as well as in a pound, there- 
fore we must be faithful in the least truth, when 
season calleth for it. Then our " words are like 
apples of gold with pictures of silver," Prov. xxv. 
1 1. One word spoken in season will do more 
good than a thousand out of season. But in 
some cases peace, by " keeping our faith to our- 
selves," Rom. xiv. 22, is of more consequence 
than the open discovery of some things we take 
to be true ; considering the weakness of man's 
nature is such, that there can hardly be a dis- 
covery of any difference in opinion, without 
some estrangement of affection. So far as men 
are not of one mind, they will hardly be of one 
heart, except where grace and the peace of God, 
Col. iii. 15, bear great rule in the heart: there- 
fore open show of difference is never good but 
when it is necessary ; howsoever some, from a 
desire to be somebody, turn into by-ways, and 
yield to a spirit of contradiction in themselves ; 
yet, if St. Paul may be judge, "are they not 
carnal } " i Cor. iii. 3 ; if it be wisdom, it is 
wisdom from beneath : for the wisdom from 
above, as it is pure, so it is peaceable, James iii. 
17. Our blessed Saviour, when he was to leave 

and Smoking Flax. 103 

the world, what doth he press upon his disciples 
more than peace and love? And in his last 
prayer, with what earnestness did he beg of his 
Father that " they might be one, as he and the 
Father were one!" John xvii. 21. But what he 
prayed for on earth, we shall only enjoy per- 
fectly in heaven. Let this make the meditation 
of that time the more sweet unto us. 

8. And further to lay open offenders in this 
kind, what spirit shall we think them to be of, 
that take advantages of the bruisedness and 
infirmities of men's spirits to relieve them with 
false peace for their own worldly ends.? A 
wounded spirit will part with anything. Most 
of the gainful points of popery, as confession, 
satisfaction, merit, purgatory, etc., spring from 
hence, but they are physicians of no value, or 
rather tormentors than physicians at all. It is 
a greater blessing to be delivered from the 
"sting of these scorpions," Rev. ix. 5, than we 
are thankful for. Spiritual tyranny is the 
greatest tyranny, and then especially when it 
is where most mercy should be shewed ; yet 
even there some, like cruel surgeons, delight in 
making long cures, to serve themselves upon 
the misery of others. It bringeth men under 
a terrible curse, " when they will not remember 

1 04 The JBruised Reed 

to shew mercy, but persecute the poor and needy- 
man, that they might even slay the broken in 
h^art," Ps. cix. 16. 

Likewise, to such as raise temporal advantage 
to themselves out of the spiritual misery of 
others, join such as raise estates by betraying 
the church, and are unfaithful in the trust com- 
mitted unto them : when the children shall cry 
for the bread of life, and there is none to give 
them, bringing thus upon the people of God 
that heavy judgment of a spiritual famine, 
starving Christ in his members ; shall we ,so 
requite so good a Saviour, who counteth the 
love and mercy shewed " in feeding his lambs," 
John xxi. 15, as shewed to himself? 

Last of all, they carry themselves very un- 
kindly towards Christ, who stumble at this his 
low stooping unto us in his government and 
ordinances, that are ashamed of the simplicity of 
the gospel, that count preaching foolishness. 

They, out of the pride of their heart, think 
they may do well enough without the help of the 
Word and Sacraments, and think Christ took not 
state enough upon him ; and therefore they will 
mend the matter with their own devices, where- 
by they may give the better content to flesh and 
blood, as in popery. What greater unthankful- 

and Smoking Flax. 105 

ness can there be than to despise any help that 
Christ in mercy hath provided for us ? In the 
days of his flesh, the proud Pharisees took offence 
at his familiar conversing with sinful men, who 
only did so as a physician to heal their souls. 
What defences was St. Paul driven to make for 
himself, for his plainness in unfolding the gospel ? 
The more Christ, in himself and in his servants, 
shall descend to exalt us, the more we should, 
with all humility and readiness, entertain that 
love, and magnify the goodness of God, that hath 
put the great work of our salvation, and laid the 
government upon so gentle a Saviour, that will 
carry himself so mildly in all things wherein he 
is to deal betwixt God and us, and us and God. 
The lower Christ comes down to us, the higher 
let us lift him up in our hearts : so will all those 
do that have ever found the experience of Christ's 
work in their heart. 

Chap. XVIII. — Of Chrisfs judgment in us, and 
his victory : what it is. 

We come to the third part, the constant pro- 
gress of Christ's gracious power, until he hath 
set up such an absolute government in us, which 
shall prevail over all corruptions. It is said here. 

io6 The Bruised Reed 


he will cherish his beginnings of grace in us, 
until he bring forth judgment unto victory. By- 
judgment here, is meant the kingdom of grace 
in us, that government whereby Christ sets up a 
throne in our hearts. Governors among the Jews 
were first called judges, then kings : whence this 
inward rule is called judgment ; as likewise, be- 
cause it agrees unto the judgment of the Word, 
which the psalmist oft calleth judgment, Ps. Ixxii. 
I, 2, because it agreeth to God's judgment. Men 
may read their doom in God's Word, what it 
judgeth of them God judgeth of them. By this 
judgment set up in us, good is discerned, allowed, 
and performed ; sin is judged, condemned, and 
executed. Our spirit being under the Spirit of 
Christ, is governed by him, and so far as it is 
governed by Christ, it governs us graciously. 

Christ and we are of one judgment and of one 
will. He hath his will in us ; and his judgments 
are so invested into us, as that they are turned 
into our judgment, we carrying " his law in our 
hearts, written by his Spirit," Jer. xxxi. 33. The 
law in the inner man and the law written, answer 
as counterpanes each other. 

The meaning then is, that the gracious frame 
of holiness set up in our hearts by the Spirit of 
Christ, shall go forward until all contrary power 

and Smoking Flax, 107 

be brought under. The spirit of judgment will 
be a spirit of burning, Isa. iv. 4, to consume what- 
soever opposed corruption like rust eats into the 
soul. If God's builders fall into errors, and build 
stubble upon a good foundation, God's Spirit as 
a spiritual " fire will reveal this in time," i Cor. 
iii. 1 3, and waste it. They shall, by a spirit of 
judgment, condemn their own errors and courses. 
The whole work of grace in us is set out under 
the name of judgment, and sometimes wisdom, 
because judgment is the chief and leading part 
in grace ; whereupon that gracious work of re- 
pentance is called a change of the mind, and an 
after-wisdom. As on the other side, in the 
learned languages, the words that do express 
wisdom imply likewise the general relish and 
savour of the whole soul, and rather more the 
judgment of taste than of sight, or any other 
sense, because taste is the most necessary sense, 
and requireth the nearest application of the ob- 
ject of all other senses. So in spiritual life, it is 
most necessary that the Spirit should alter the 
taste of the soul, so as that it might savour the 
things of the Spirit so deeply, that all other 
things should be out of relish. 

And as it is true of every particular Christian, 
that Christ's judgment in him shall be victorious. 

io8 The Bruised Reed 

so likewise of the whole body of Christians— ^the 
Church. The government of Christ, and his 
truth, whereby he ruleth as by a sceptre, shall at 
length be victorious in spite of Satan, antichrist, 
and all enemies. Christ "riding on his white 
horse," Rev. vi. 2, hath a bow, and goeth forth 
conquering, Rev. xix. ii, in. the ministry, that 
he may overcome either to conversion or to con- 
fusion. But yet I take judgment for Christ's 
kingdom and government within us principally. 
I. Because God especially requireth the subjec- 
tion of the soul and conscience as his proper 
throne. 2. Because if judgment should prevail 
in all other about us and not in our own hearts, 
it would not yield comfort to us ; hereupon it is 
the first thing that we desire when we pray, 
" Thy kingdom come," that Christ would come 
and rule in our hearts. The kingdom of Christ 
in his ordinances serves but to bring Christ home 
into his own place, our hearts. 

The words being thus explained, that judg- 
ment here includeth the government of both 
mind, will, and affections, there are divers con- 
clusions that naturally do spring from them. 

and Smoking Flax, 


Chap. XIX. — Christ is so mild that yet Ju will govern 
those that enjoy the comfort of his mildness. 

The first conclusion from the connection of 
this part of the verse with the former is, that 
Christ is upon those terms mild, so that he will 
set up his government in those whom he is so 
gentle and tender over. He so pardons as he 
will be obeyed as a king ; he so taketh us to be 
his spouse, as he will be obeyed as a husband. 
The same Spirit that convinceth us of the neces- 
sity of his righteousness to cover us, convinceth 
us also of the necessity of his government to 
rule us. His love to us moveth him to frame us 
to be like himself, and our love to him stirreth 
us up to be such as he may take delight in, 
neither have we any more faith or hope than care 
to be purged as he is pure ; he maketh us subor- 
dinate governors, yea, kings under himself, giving 
us grace not only to set against, but to subdue in 
some measure our base affections. It is one main 
fruit of Christ's exaltation that he may turn 
every one of us from our wickedness. Acts iii. 26. 
" For this end Christ died and rose again and 
liveth, that he should be Lord of the dead and 
living," Rom. xiv. 9. God hath bound himself 

no The Bruised Reed 

by an oath that he would grant us, that " without 
fear we might serve him in holiness and righteous- 
ness in his sight," Luke i. 75, not only in the 
sight of the worid. 

1. This may serve for a trial to discern who 
may lay just claim to Christ's mercy ; only those 
that will take his yoke, and count it a greater 
happiness to be under his government, than to 
enjoy any liberty of the flesh ; that will take 
whole Christ, and not single out of him what 
may stand with their present contentment ; that 
will not divide Lord from Jesus, and so make a 
Christ of their own : none ever did truly desire 
mercy pardoning, but desired mercy healing. 
David prayeth for a new spirit, as well as for 
sense of pardoning mercy, Ps. li. 10. 

2. This sheweth that those are misled, that 
make Christ to be only righteousness to us, 
and not sanctification, except by imputation : 
whereas it is a great part of our happiness to be 
under such a Lord, who was not only bom for us, 
and given unto us, but "hath the government 
likewise upon his shoulders," Isa, ix. 6, 7, that is, 
our Sanctifier as well as our Saviour, our Saviour 
as well by the effectual power of his Spirit from 
the power of sin, as by the merit of his death 
from the guilt thereof; so that this (i.) Be re- 

and Smoking Flax, 1 1 1 

membered, that the first and chief ground of our 
comfort is, that Christ as^a priest offerdd himself 
as a sacrifice to his Father for us. The guilty 
soul flieth first to Christ crucified, made a curse 
for us. Thence it is that Christ hath right to 
govern us, thence it is that he giveth us his Spirit 
as our guide to lead us home. 

(2.) In the course of our life, after that we are 
in state of grace, and be overtaken with any sin, 
we must remember to have recourse first unto 
Christ's mercy to pardon us, and then to the pro- 
mise of his Spirit to govern us. 

(3.) And when we feel ourselves cold in affec- 
tion and duty, it is the best way to warm our- 
selves at this fire of his love and mercy in giving 
himself for us. 

(4.) Again, remember this, that Christ, as he 
ruleth us, so it is by a spirit of love from a sense 
of his love, whereby his commandments are easy 
to us. He leadeth us by his free Spirit, a Spirit 
of liberty: his subjects are voluntaries. The 
constraint that he layeth upon his subjects is 
that of love : he draweth us with the cords of 
love sweetly. Yet remember withal, that he 
draweth us strongly by a Spirit of power, for it 
is not sufl5cient that we have motives and en- 
couragements to love and obey Christ from that 

love of his, whereby he gave himself for us to 
justify u^; but Christ's Spirit must likewise sub- 
due our hearts, and sanctify them to love him, 
without which all motives would be ineffectual. 
Our disposition must be changed, we must be 
new creatures ; they seek for heaven in hell that 
seek for spiritual love in an unchanged heart. 
When a child obeys his father, it is so from 
reasons persuading him, as likewise from a child- 
like nature which giveth strength to these reasons : 
it is natural, for a child of God to love Christ so 
far as he is renewed, not only from inducement 
of reason so to do, but likewise from an inward 
principle and work of grace, whence those reasons 
have their chief forces ; first, we are made par- 
takers of the divine nature, and then we are 
easily induced and led by Christ's Spirit to spiri- 
tual duties. 

Chap. XX. — The spiritual government of Christ is 
joined with judgment and wisdom. 

The second conclusion is, that Christ's govern- 
ment in his church and in his children is a wise 
and well-ordered government, because it is called 
judgment, and judgment is the life and soul of 
wisdom. Of this conclusion there are two 

branches: i. That the spiritual government of 
Christ in us is joined with judgment and wisdom. 
2. Wheresoever true spiritual wisdom and judg- 
ment is, there likewise the Spirit of Christ bringeth 
in his gracious government! For the first, a well- 
guided life by the rules of Christ standeth with 
the strongest and highest reason of all ; and 
therefore holy men are called the ** children 
of wisdom," Luke vii. 31, and are able to justify, 
both by reason and experience, all the ways of 
wisdom. Opposite courses are folly and mad- 
ness. Hereupon St. Paul saith, that a " spiritual 
man judgeth all things," i Cor. ii. 15, that apper- 
tain to him, and is judged of none that are of an 
inferior rank, because they want spiritual light 
and sight to judge ; yet this sort of men will be 
judging, "and speaking ill of what they know 
not," 2 Pet. ii. 12 ; they step from ignorance to 
prejudice and rash censure, without taking right 
judgment in their way, and therefore their judg- 
ment comes to nothing. But the judgment of a 
spiritual man, so far forth as he is spiritual, shall 
stand, because it is agreeable to the nature of 
things : as things are in themselves, so they are 
in his judgment. As God is in himself infinite 
in goodness and majesty, etc., so he is to him ; 
he ascribes to God in his heart his divinity and 

114 2^^ Bruised Reed 

all his excellencies. As Christ is in himself the 
only Mediator, and all in all in the church, CoL 
iii. II, so he is to him, by making Christ so in 
his heart " As all things are dung in compari- 
son of Christ," Phil, iil 8, so they are to Paul, a 
sanctified man. As the very worst thing in reli- 
gion, ** the reproach of Christ is better than the 
pleasure of sin for a season," Heb. xi. 26 ; so it is 
to Moses, a man of a right esteem. " As one day 
in the courts of God is better than a thousand 
elsewhere," Ps. Ixxxiv. 10, so it is to David, a 
man of a reformed judgment. There is a con- 
formity of a good man's judgment to things as 
they are in themselves, and according to the dif- 
ference or agreement put by God in things, so 
doth his judgment differ or agree. 

Truth is truth, and error, error, and that which 
is unlawful is unlawful, whether men think so or 
no. God hath put an eternal difference betwixt 
light and darkness, good and ill, which no crea- 
ture's conceit can alter ; and therefore no man's 
judgment is the measure of things further than 
it agrees to truth stamped upon things them- 
selves by God. Hereupon, because a wise man's 
judgment agrees to the truth of things, a wise 
man may in some sense be said to be the mea- 
sure of things ; and the judgment of one holy 

and Smoking Flax. 


wise man to be preferred before a thousand others. 
Such men usually are immoveable as the sun in 
its course, because they think, and speak, and 
live by rule. " A Joshua and his house will serve 
God," Josh. xxiv. 15, whatsoever others do, and 
will run a course contrary to the world, because 
their judgments lead them a contrary way. 
Hence it is that Satan hath a spite at the eye of 
the soul, the judgment, to put out that by ignor- 
ance and false reason, for he cannot rule in any 
until either he hath taken away or perverted 
judgment : he is a prince of darkness, and ruleth 
in darkness of the understanding. Therefore he 
must first be cast out of the understanding by the 
prevailing of truth, and planting it in the soul. 
Those therefore that are enemies of knowledge 
help Satan and antichrist, whose kingdom, like 
Satan's, is a kingdom of darkness, to erect their 
throne. Hence it is promised by Christ, that "the 
Holy Ghost shall convince the world of judg- 
ment," John xvi. 8 ; that is, that he is resolved 
to set up a throne of government, because the 
great lord of misrule, " Satan, the prince of the 
world," is judged by the gospel, and the Spirit 
accompanying it, his impostures are discovered, 
his enterprises laid open ; therefore when the 
gospel was spread, the oracles ceased, "Satan 

1 1 6 The Bruised Reed 

fell from heaven like lightning," Luke x. i8; 
men were "translated out of his kingdom into 
Christ's," Col. i. 13. Where prevailing is by lies, 
there discovery is victory; "they shall proceed 
no further,*for their folly shall be manifest to all," 
2 Tim. iii. 9. So that manifestation of error 
giveth a stop to it, for none will willingly be de- 
ceived. Let truth have full scope without check 
or restraint, and let Satan and his instruments 
do their worst, they shall not prevail ; as Jerome 
saith of the Pelagians in his time. The dis- 
covery of your opinions is the vanquishing of 
them, your blasphemies appear at the first blush. 

Use, Hence we learn the necessity, that the 
understanding be principled with supernatural 
knowledge, for the well managing of a Christian 

There must be light to discover a further end 
than nature, for which we are Christians, and a 
rule suitable directing to that end, which is the 
will of God in Christ, discovering his good pleas- 
ure toward us, and our duty toward him ; and 
in virtue of this discovery we do all that we do, 
that any way may further our reckoning : " The 
eye must first be single, and then the whole body 
and frame of our conversation will be light," 
Matt. VI. 22 ; otherwise both we and our course 

a7id Smoking Flax. 117 

of life are nothing but darkness. The whole 
conversation of a Christian is nothing else but 
knowledge digested into will, affection, and prac- 
tice. If the first concoction in the stomach be 
not good, that in the liver cannot be good ; so if 
there be error in the judgment, it mars the whole 
practice, as an error in the foundation doth the 
building : God will have " no blind sacrifices, no 
unreasonable services," Mai. i. 13, but will have 
us to " love him with all our mind," Rom. xii. i, 
that is, with our understanding part as well as 
" with all our hearts," Luke x. 27, that is, the 
affecting part of the soul. 

This order of Christ's government by judgment 
is agreeable unto the soul, and God delighteth to 
preserve the manner of working peculiar unto 
man, that is, to do what he doth out of judgment : 
as grace supposeth nature as founded upon it, so 
the frame of grace preserveth the frame of nature 
in man. And, therefore, Christ bringeth all that 
is good in the soul through judgment, and that 
so sweetly, that many out of a dangerous error 
think, that that good which is in them and 
issueth from them is from themselves, and not 
from the powerful work of grace. As in evil, 
the devil so subtilly leadeth us according to the 
stream of our own nature, that men think that 


The Bruised Reed 

Satan had no hand in their sin ; but here a mistake 
is with little peril, because we are ill of ourselves, 
and the devil doth but promote what ill he find- 
eth in us. But there are no seeds of supernatural 
goodness at all in us. God findeth nothing in 
us but enmity; only he hath engraven this in 
our nature to incline in general to that which we 
judge to be good.' Now when he shall clearly 
discover what is good in particular, we are car- 
ried to it ; and when convincingly he shall dis- 
cover that which is ill, we abhor it as freely as 
we embraced it before. 

From whence we may know, when we work as 
we should do or no, that is, when we do what we 
do out of inward principles, when we fall not 
upon that which is good, only because we are so 
bred, or because such or such whom we respect 
do so, or because we will maintain a side, so 
making religion a faction ; but out of judgment, 
when what we do that is good, we first judge it 
in ourselves so to be ; and whatwe abstain from 
that is ill, we first judge it to be ill from an in- 
ward judgment. A sound Christian, as he en- 
joyeth the better part, so hath first made choice 
of it with Mary, Luke x. 42 ; he established all 
his thoughts by counsel, Prov. xx. 18. God in- 
deed useth carnal men to very good service, but 

and Smoking Flax, 


without a thorough altering and conviction of 
their judgment. He worketh by them, but not 
in them, therefore they do neither approve the 
good they do, nor hate the evil they abstain 

Chap. XXI. — Where true wisdom and judgment is, 
there Christ sets up his government. 

The second branch is, that wheresoever true 
wisdom and judgment is/there Christ hath set 
up his government \ because where wisdom is, it 
directs us not only to understand, but to order 
our ways aright. Where Christ by his Spirit as 
a prophet teaches, he likewise as a king by his 
Spirit subdueth the heart to obedience of what 
is taught. This is that teaching which is pro- 
mised of God, when not only the brain, but the 
heart itself, is taught : when men do not only 
know what they should do, but are taught the 
very doing of it ; they are not only taught that 
they should love, fear, and obey, but they are 
taught love itself, and fear and obedience itself 
Christ sets up his chair in the very heart, and 
alters the frame of that, and makes his subjects 
good, together with teaching of them to be good. 
Other princes can make good laws, but they 


The Bruised Reed 

" cannot write them in their people's hearts," 
Jer. xxxii. 40. This is Christ's prerogative, he 
infuseth into his subjects his own Spirit, "Upon 
him there doth not only rest the spirit of wisdom 
and understanding, but likewise the Spirit of the 
fear of the Lord," Isa. xi. 2. The knowledge 
which we have of him from himself, is a trans- 
forming knowledge, 2 Cor. iii. 18. The same 
Spirit that enlighteneth the mind, inspireth gra- 
cious inclinations into the will and affections, 
and infuseth strength into the whole man. As a 
gracious man judgeth as he should, so he affecteth 
and doth as he judgeth, his life is a commentary 
of his inward man ; there is a sweet harmony 
betwixt God's truth, his judgment, and his whole 
conversation. The heart of a Christian is like 
Jerusalem when it was at the best, a city compact 
within itself, Ps. cxii. 3 ; where are set up the 
thrones of judgment, Ps. cxxii. 5. Judgment 
should have a throne in the heart of every Chris- 
tian. Not that judgment alone will work a 
change, there must be grace to alter the bent 
and sway of the will, before it will yield to be 
wrought upon by the understanding. But God 
hath so joined these together, as that whensoever 
he doth savingly shine upon the understanding, 
he giveth a soft and pliable heart ; for without a 

and Smoking Flax. 


work upon the heart by the Spirit of God, it will 
follow its own inclination to that which it affect- 
eth, whatsoever the judgment shall say to the con- 
trary : there is no connatural proportion betwixt 
an unsanctified heart and a sanctified judgment. 
For the heart unaltered will not give leave to the 
judgment coldly and soberly to conclude what is 
best : as the sick man whilst his aguish distem- 
per corrupteth his taste, is rather desirous to 
please that, than to hearken what the physician 
shall speak. Judgment hath not power over 
itself where the will is unsubdued, for the will 
and affections bribe it to give sentence for them, 
when any profit or pleasure shall come in competi- 
tion with that which the judgment in general only 
shall think to be good ; and, therefore, it is for 
the most part in the power of the heart, what the 
understanding shall judge and determine in par.- 
ticular things. Where grace hath brought the 
heart under, there unruly passions do not cast 
such a mist before the understanding, but that in 
particular it seeth that which is best ; and base 
respects, springing from self-love, do not alter the 
case, and bias the judgment into a contrary way ; 
but that which is good in itself shall be good 
unto us, although it cross our particular worldly 


The Bruised Reed 

Use. The right conceiving of this hath an in- 
fluence into practice, which hath drawn me to a 
more full explanation: this will teach us the 
right method of godliness, to begin with judg- 
ment, and then to beg of God, together with 
illumination, holy inclinations of our will and 
affections, that so a perfect government may be 
set up in our hearts, and that our "knowledge 
may be with all judgment," PhiL i. 9; that is, 
with experience and feeling. When the judg- 
ment of Christ is set up in our judgments, and 
thence, by the Spirit of Christ, brought into our 
hearts, then it is in its proper place and throne ; 
and until then, truth doth us no good, but help- 
eth to condemn us. The life of a Christian is a 
regular life, and he that walketh by the rule. 
Gal. vi. 16, of the new creature, peace shall be 
upon him : " he that despiseth his way and loveth 
to live at large, seeking all liberty to the flesh, 
shall die," Prov. xix. 16. And it is made good 
by St. Paul, "If we live after the flesh, we shall 
die," Rom. viii. 13. 

We learn likewise that men of an ill-governed 
life have no true judgment : no wicked man can 
be a wise man. And that without Christ's Spirit 
the soul is in confusion, without beauty and form, 
as all things were in the chaos before the crea- 

and Smoking Flax. 


tion. The whole soul is out of Joint till it be set 
in again by him whose office is to "restore all 
things." The baser part of the soul which should 
be subject, ruleth all,, and keepeth under that 
little truth that is in the understanding, holding 
it captive to base affections ; and Satan by cor- 
ruption getteth all the holds of the soul, till 
Christ, stronger than he, cometh, and driveth 
him out, and taketh possession of all the powers 
and parts of soul and body, to be weapons of 
righteousness, to serve him, and then new lords 
new laws. Christ as a new conqueror changeth 
the fundamental laws of old Adam, and estab- 
lisheth a government of his own. 

Chap. XXII. — Chrisfs government is victorious. 

The third conclusion is, that this government 
is victorious. The reasons are: — 

I. Because Christ hath conquered all in his 
own person first, and he is God over all, blessed 
for evermore; and therefore over "sin, death, hell, 
Satan, the world," etc., Rom. ix. 5. And as he 
hath overcome them in himself, so he overcomes 
them in our hearts and consciences. We used 
to say, conscience maketh a man a king or a 
caitiff, because it is planted in us to judge for 


The Bruised Reed 

God, either with us or against us. Now if natu- 
ral conscience be so forcible, what will it be when 
besides its own light it hath the light of divine 
truth put into it ? It will undoubtedly prevail, 
either to make 'us hold up our heads with bold- 
ness, or abase us beneath ourselves. If it sub- 
ject itself by grace to Christ's truth, then it boldly 
overlooks death, hell, judgment, and all spiritual 
enemies, because then Christ sets up his king- 
dom in the conscience, and makes it a kind of 

The sharpest conflict which the soul hath is 
between the conscience and God's justice: now 
if the conscience, sprinkled with the blood of 
Christ, hath prevailed over assaults fetched from 
the justice of God as now satisfied by Christ, it 
will prevail over all other opposition whatsoever. 

2. We are to encounter with accursed and 
damned enemies ; therefore if they begin to fall 
before the Spirit in us, they shall fall : if they 
rise up again, it is to have the greater fall. 

3. The Spirit of truth, to whose tuition Christ 
hath committed his church, and the truth of the 
Spirit, which is the sceptre of Christ, abide for 
ever; therefore the soul begotten by the im- 
mortal seed of the Spirit, I Pet. i. 23, and this 
truth, must not only live for ever, but likewise 

and Smoking Flax, 125 

prevail over all that oppose it, for both the Word 
and Spirit are mighty in operation, Heb. iv. 12 ; 
and if the ill spirit be never idle in those whom 
God delivereth up to him, we cannot think that 
the Holy Spirit will be idle in those whose 
leading and government is committed to him. 
No; as he dwelleth in them, so he will drive 
out all that rise up against him, until he be all 
in all. 

What is spiritual is eternal. Truth is a beam 
of Christ's Spirit, both in itself and as it is in- 
grafted into the soul, therefore it, and the grace, 
though little, wrought by it, will prevail. A 
little thing in the hand of a giant will do great 
matters. A little faith strengthened by Christ 
will work wonders. 

4. "To him that hath shall be given," Matt. 
XXV. 29 ; the victory over any corruption or 
temptation is a pledge of final victory. As 
Joshua said when he set his foot upon the five 
kings which he conquered, " Thus God shall do 
with all our enemies," Josh. x. 25 ; heaven is 
ours already, only we strive till we have full 

5. Christ as king brings in a commanding 
light into the soul, and bows the neck, and 
softens the iron sinew of the inner man ; and 

126 The Bruised Reed 

where ,he begins to rule, he rules for ever, " his 
kingdom hath no end," Luke i. 33. 

6. The end of Christ's coming was to destroy 
the works of the devil, both for us and in us ; 
and the end of the resurrection was, as to seal 
unto us the assurance of his victory ; so, i. To 
quicken our souls from death in sin ; 2, To free 
our souls from such snares and sorrows of spiri- 
tual death as accompany the guilt of sin ; 3, To 
raise them up more comfortable, as the sun 
breaks forth more gloriously out of a thick 
cloud ; 4, To raise us out pf particular slips and 
failings, stronger; 5, To raise us out of all 
troublesome and dark conditions of this life; 
and, 6, At length to raise our bodies out of the 
dust. For the same power that the Spirit showed 
in raising Christ, our head, from the sorrows of 
death, and the lowest degree of his abasement ; 
the same power obtained by the death of Christ 
from God, now appeased by that sacrifice, wjU 
the Spirit show in the church, which is his body, 
and in every particular member thereof. 

And this power is conveyed by faith, whereby, 
after union with Christ in both his estates of 
humiliation and exaltation, we see ourselves not 
only "dead with Christ, but risen and sitting 
together with him in heavenly places," Eph. ii. 

and Smoking Flax, 127 

6. Now we, apprehending ourselves to be dead 
and risen, and thereupon victorious over all our 
enemies iA our head, and apprehending that his 
scope in all this is to conform us to himself, we 
are by this faith changed into his likeness, 2 Cor. 
iii. 18, and so become conquerors over all our 
spiritual enemies, as he is, by that power which 
we derive from him, who is the storehouse of all 
spiritual strength for all his. Christ at length 
will have his end in us, and faith resteth assured 
of it, and this assurance is very operative, stirring 
us up to join with Christ in his ends. 

And so for the church in general, by Christ it 
will have its victory: Christ is "that little stone 
cut out of the mountain without hands, that 
breaketh in pieces that goodly image," Dan. ii. 
35, that is, all opposite government, until it be- 
come "a great mountain, and filleth the whole 
earth." So that the stone that was cut out of 
the mountain, becomes a mountain itself at 
length. Who art thou, then, O mountain, that 
thinkest to stand up against this mountain ? All 
shall lie flat and level before it: he will bring 
down all mountainous, high, exalted thoughts, 
and lay the pride of all flesh low. When chafT 
strives against the wind, stubble against the fire, 
when the heel kicks against the pricks, when the 


The Bruised Reed 

potsherd strives with the potter, when man strives 
against God, it is easy to know on which side the 
victory will go. The winds may toss the ship 
wherein Christ is, but not overturn it The 
waves may dash against the rock, but they do 
but break themselves against it 

Object If this be so, why is it thus with the 
church of God, and with many a gracious Chris- 
tian ? the victory seemeth to go with the enemy. 

Ans. For answer, remember, i, God's chil- 
dren usually in their troubles overcome by suffer- 
ing; here lambs overcome lions, and doves 
eagles, by suffering, that herein they may be 
conformable to Christ, who conquered most 
when he suffered most ; together with Christ's 
kingdom of patience there was a kingdom of 

2. This victory is by d^^ees, and therefore 
they are too hasty spirited that would conquer 
so soon as they strike the first stroke, and be at 
the end of their race at the first setting forth ; 
the Israelites were sure of their victory in their 
voyage to Canaan, yet they must fight it out 
God would not have us presently forget what 
cruel enemies Christ hath overcome for us ; 
" Destroy them not, lest the people forget it," 
saith the Psalmist, Ps. lix. ii. That so by the 

and Smoking Flax. 1 29 

experience of that annoyance we have by them, 
we might be kept in fear to come under the 
power of them. 

3. That God often worketh by contraries: 
when he means to give victory, he will suffer us 
to be foiled at first ; when he means to comfort, 
he will terrify first ; when he means to justify, 
he will condemn us first; whom he means to 
make glorious, he will abase first. A Christian 
conquers, even when he is conquered ; when he 
is conquered by some sins, he gets victory over 
others more dangerous, as spiritual pride, secu- 
rity, etc. 

4. That Christ's work, both in the church and 
in the hearts of Christians, often goeth backward, 
that it may go the better forward. As seed rots 
in the ground in the winter time, but after comes 
better up, and the harder the winter, the more 
flourishing the spring, so we learn to stand by 
falls, and get strength by weakness discovered — 
virtutis custos infirmitas — we take deeper root 
by shaking; and, as torches flame brighter 
by moving, thus it pleaseth Christ, out of his 
freedom, in this manner to maintain his govern- 
ment in us. Let us herein labour to exercise 
our faith, that it may answer Christ's manner of 
carriage towards us ; when we are foiled, let us 


1 30 The Bruised Reed 

believe we shall overcome ; when we are fallen, 
let us believe we shall rise again. Jacob, after 
he had a " blow upon which he halted, yet would 
not give over wrestling," Gen. xxxii. 24, till he 
had gotten the blessing; so let us never give 
over, but in our thoughts knit the beginning, 
progress, and end together, and then we shall 
see ourselves in heaven out of the reach of all 
enemies. Let us assure ourselves that God's 
grace, even in this imperfect state, is stronger 
than man's free will in the state of first perfec- 
tion, being founded now in Christ, who, as he is 
the author, so will be " the finisher of our faith," 
Heb. xii. 2 ; we are under a more gracious cove- 
nant. ♦ 

That which some say of faith rooted, fides 
radicatUy that it continueth, but weak faith may 
come to nothing, seemeth to be crossed by this 
Scripture; for, as the strongest faith may be 
shaken, so the weakest where truth is, is so far 
rooted, that it will prevail. Weakness with 
watchfulness will stand out, when strength with 
too much confidence faileth. Weakness, with 
acknowledging of it, is the fittest seat and sub- 
ject for God to perfect his strength in ; for con- 
sciousness of our infirmities driveth us out of 
ourselves to him in whom our strength lieth. 

and Smoking Flax. 


Hereupon it followeth that weakness may 
stand with the assurance of salvation ; the dis- 
ciples, notwithstanding all their weaknesses, are 
bidden to rejoice, Luke x. 20, that their names 
are written in heaven. Failings, with conflict, 
in sanctification should not weaken the peace of 
our justification, and assurance of salvation. It 
mattereth not so much what ill is in us, as what 
good ; not what corruptions, but how we stand 
affected to them ; not what our particular fail- 
ings be, so much as what is the thread and tenor 
of our lives ; for Christ's mislike of that which is 
amiss in us, redounds not to the hatred of our 
persons, but to the victorious subduing of all 
our infirmities. 

Some have, after conflict, wondered at the 
goodness of God, that so little and shaking faith 
should have upheld them in so great combats, 
when Satan had almost catched them. And, 
indeed, it is to be wondered how much a little 
grace will prevail with God for acceptance, and 
over our enemies for victory, if the heart be 
upright. Such is the goodness of our sweet 
Saviour, that he delighteth still to shew his 
strength in our weakness. 

Use I. First, therefore, for the great consola- 
tion of poor and weak Christians, let them know. 


The Bruised Reed 

that a spark from heaven, though kindled under 
greenwood that sobs and smokes, yet it will con- 
sume all at last. Love once kindled is strong as 
death, much water cannot quench it, and there- 
fore it is called a vehement flame, or flame of 
God, Cant. viii. 6, kindled in the heart by the 
Holy Ghost ; that little that is in us is fed with an 
everlasting spring. As the fire that came down 
from heaven in Elias' time, i Kings xviii. 38, 
licked up all the water, to shew that it came 
from God, so will this fire spend all our corrup- 
tion ; no affliction without, or corruption within, 
shall quench it. In the morning we see oft clouds 
gather about the sun, as if they would hide it, 
but the sun wasteth them by little and little, till 
it come to its full strength. At the first, fears 
and doubts hinder the breaking out of this fire, 
until at length it gets above them all, and Christ 
prevails ; and then he backs his own graces in 
us. Grace conquers us first, and we by it con- 
quer all things else; whether it be corruptions 
within us or temptations without us. 

The church of Christ, begotten by the word of 
truth, hath the doctrine of the apostles for her 
crown, and tramples the moon, that is, the world, 
and all worldly things, "under her feet," Rev. 
xii. I ; " every one that is bom of God over- 


and Smoking Flax, 


cometh the world," i John v. 4. Faith, whereby 
^ ^'especially Christ rules, sets the soul so high, that 
it overlooks all other things as far below, as 
having represented to it, by the Spirit of Christ, 
riches, honour, beauty, pleasures of a higher 

Now that we may not come short of the com- 
fort intended, there are two things especially to 
be taken notice of by us : i. Whether there be 
such a judgment or government set up in us, to 
which this promise of victory is made. 2. Some 
rules or directions how we are to carry ourselves, 
that the judgment of Christ in us may indeed be 

The evidences whereby we may come to know 
that Christ's judgment in us is such as will be 
victorious are, i. If we be able from experience 
to justify all Christ's ways, let flesh and blood 
say what it can to the contrary, and can willingly 
subscribe to that course which God hath taken in 
Christ, to bring us to heaven, and still approve a 
further measure of grace than we have attained 
unto, and project and forecast for it. No other 
man can justify their courses, when their con- 
science is awaked. 2. When reasons of reUgion 
be the strongest reasons with us, and prevail 
more than reasons fetched from worldly policy. 


The Bruised Reed 

3. When we are so true to our ends and fast to 
our rule, as no hopes or fears can sway us another 
way, but still we are looking what agrees or dif- 
fers from our rule. 4. When we " can do nothing 
against the truth, but for the truth," 2 Cor. xiii. 8, 
as being dearer to us than our lives ; truth hath 
not this sovereignty in the heart of any carnal 
man. 5. When if we had liberty to choose under 
whose government we would live, yet out of a 
delight in the inner man to Christ's government 
^ we would make choice of him only to rule us 
before any other, for this argues, that we are like- 
minded to Christ, a free and a voluntary people, 
and not compelled unto Christ's service, other- 
wise than by the sweet constraint of love. When 
we are so far in liking with the government of 
Christ's Spirit, that we are willing to resign up 
ourselves to him in all things, for then his king- 
dom is come unto us, when our wills are brought 
to his will. It is the bent of our wills that 
maketh us good or ill. 

6. A well-ordered uniform life, not by fits or 
starts, shews a well-ordered heart, as in a clock 
when the hammer strikes well, and the hand of 
the dial points well, it is a sign that the wheels 
are right set. 7. When Christ's will cometh in 
competition with any earthly loss or gain, yet if 

and Smoking Flax. 135 

then, in that particular case, the heart will stoop 
to Christ, it is a true sign ; for the truest trial of 
the power of grace is in such particular cases 
which touch us nearest, for there our corruption 
maketh the greatest head. When Christ came 
near home to the young man. Matt. x. 22, in the 
gospel, he lost a disciple of him. 8. When we 
can practise duties pleasing to Christ, though 
contrary to flesh, and the course of the world, and 
when we can overcome ourselves in that evil to 
which our nature is prone, and standeth so much 
inclined unto, and which agreeth to the sway of 
the times, and which others lie enthralled under, 
as desire of revenge, hatred of enemies, private 
ends, etc., then it appears that grace is in us 
above nature, heaven above earth, and will have 
the victory. 

For the further clearing of this and helping 
of us in our trial, we must know there be three 
degrees of victory, i. When we resist though 
we be foiled. 2. When grace gets the better 
though with conflict. 3. When all corruption 
is perfectly subdued. Now we have strength 
but only to resist, yet we may know Christ's 
government in us will be victorious, because what 
is said of the devil is said of all our spiritual 
enemies, " if we resist they shall in time fly from 

136 The Bruised Reed 

us," James iv. 7 ; because ** stronger is he that is 
in us/' that taketh part with his own grace^ 
"than he that is in the world," i John iv. 4. An^ 
if we may hope for victory upon bare resistance, 
what may we not hope for when the Spirit h^tH 
gotten the upper hand ? 

Chap. XXIII. — Means to make Graa victorious. 

For the second, that is, directions. 

We must know, though Christ hath under- 
taken this victory, yet he accomplished it by 
training us up to fight his battles ; he overcometh 
in us, by making us " wise to salvation," 2 Tim. 
iii. 15 ; and in what degree we believe Christ will 
conquer, in that degree we will endeavour by his 
grace that we may conquer; for faith is an 
obedient and a wise grace. Christ maketh us 
wise to ponder and weigh things, and thereupon 
to rank and order them so as we may make the 
fitter choice of what is best Some rules to help 
us in judging are these : 

(i.) To judge of things as they help or hinder 
the main ; (2.) as they further or hinder our 
reckoning ; (3.) as they make us more on less 
spiritual, and so bring us nearer to the fountain 
of goodness, God himself; (4.) as they bring us 

and Smoking Flax. 137 

peace or sorrow at the last ; (5.) as they com- 
mend us more or less to God, and wherein we 
shall approve ourselves to him most; (6.) like- 
wise to judge of things now, as we shall do here- 
after when the soul shall be best able to judge, 
as when we are under any public calamity, or at 
the hour of death, when the soul gathereth itself 
from all other things to itself; (7.) look back to 
former experience, see what is most agreeable 


unto it, what was best in our worst times. If 
grace is or was best then, it is best now. And 
(8.) labour to judge of things as he doth who 
must judge us, and as holy men judge, who are 
led by the Spirit ; morQ particularly, (9.) what 
those judge, that have no interest in any benefit 
that may come by the thing which is in question : 
for outward things blind the eyes even of the 
wise ; we see papists are most corrupt in those 
things where their honour, ease, or profit is en- 
gaged ; but in the doctrine of the Trinity, which 
doth not touch upon these things, they are sound. 
But it is not sufficient that judgment be right, 
but likewise ready and strong. 

I. Where Christ establisheth his government, 
he inspireth care to keep the judgment clear and 
fresh, for whilst the judgment standeth straight 
and firm, the whole frame of the soul continueth 

138 The Bruised Reed 

strong and impregnable. True judgment in us 
advanceth Christ, and Christ will advance it. 
All sin is either from false principles, or ignor- 
ance, or mindlessness, or unbelief of true. By 
inconsideration and weakness of assent. Eve lost 
her hold at first. Gen. iii. 6. It is good, therefore, 
to store up true principles in our hearts, and to 
refresh them often, that in virtue of them our 
affections and actions may be niore vigorous. 
When judgment is fortified, evil finds no entrance, 
but good things have a side within us, to enter- 
tain them. Whilst true convincing light con- 
tinueth, we will not do the least ill of sin for the 
greatest ill of punishment. " In vain is the net 
spread in the eyes of that which hath wings," 
Prov. i. 17. Whilst the soul is kept aloft, there 
is little danger of snares below ; we lose our high 
estimation of things before we can be drawn to 
any sin. 

2. And because knowliedge and affection mutu- 
ally help one another, it is good to keep up our 
affections of love and delight, by all sweet in- 
ducements and divine encouragements ; for what 
the heart liketh best, the mind studieth most. 
Those that can bring their hearts to delight in 
Christ know most of his ways. Wisdom loveth 
him that loves her. Love is the best entertainer 

and Smoking Flax, 139 

of truth ; and when it is not " entertained in the 
love of it," 2 Thess. ii. 10, being so lovely as it 
is, it leaveth the heart, and will stay no longer. 
It hath been a prevailing way to begin by with- 
drawing the love to corrupt the judgment ; be- 
cause as we love, so we use to judge ; and there- 
fore it is hard to be affectionate and wise in 
earthly things ; but in heavenly things, where 
there hath been a right information of the judg- 
ment before, the more our affections grow, the 
better and clearer our judgments will be, because 
our affections, though strong, can never rise high 
enough to the excellency of the things. We see 
in the martyrs, when the sweet doctrine of Christ 
had once gotten their hearts, it could not be 
gotten out again by all the .torments the wit of 
cruelty could devise. If Christ hath once pos- 
sessed the affections, there is no dispossessing of 
him again. A fire in the heart overcometh all 
fires without. 

3. Wisdom likewise teacheth us wherein our 
weakness lieth, and our enemy's strength, whereby 
a jealous fear is stirred up in us, whereby we are 
preserved ; for out of this godly jealousy we keep 
those provocations which are active and working, 
from that which is passive and catching in us, as 
we keep fire from powder. They that will hinder 

1 40 The Bruised Reed 

the generation of noisome creatures, will hinder 
the conception first, by keeping male and female 
asunder. This jealousy will be much furthered 
by observing strictly what hath helped or hin- 
dered a gracious temper in us ; and it will make 
us take heed that we consult not with flesh and 
blood in ourselves or others. How else can 
we think that Christ will lead us out to 
victory, when we take counsel of his and our 
enemies ? 

4. Christ maketh us likewise careful to attend 
all means whereby fresh thoughts and affections 
may be stirred up and preserved in us. Christ 
so honoureth the use of means, and the care he 
putteth into us, that he ascribeth both preserva- 
tion and victory unto our care of keeping our- 
selves. "He that is b^otten of God keepeth 
himself," i John v. 18 ; but not by himself, but 
by the Lord, in dependence on him on the use 
of means. We are no longer safe than wise to 
present ourselves to all good advantages of 
acquaintance, etc. By going out of God's walks 
we go out of his government, and so lose our 
frame, and find ourselves overspread quickly with 
a contrary disposition. When we draw near to 
Christ, James iv. 8, in his ordinances he draws 
near unto us. 

aftd Smoking Flax. 


5. Keep grace in exercise. It is not sleepy 
habits, but grace in exercise, that preserveth us. 
Whilst the soul is in some civil or sacred employ- 
ment, corruptions within us are much suppressed, 
and Satan's passages stopped, and the Spirit 
hath a way open to enlarge itself in us, and like- 
wise the guard of angels then most nearly attends 
us ; which course often prevails more against our 
spiritual enemies than direct opposition. It 
stands upon Christ's honour to maintain those 
that are in his work. 

6. Sixthly, in all directions we must look up 
to Christ the quickening Spirit, and resolve in 
his strength. Though we are exhorted " to 
cleave to the Lord with full purpose of heart," 
Acts xi. 23, yet we must pray with David, " Lord, 
for ever keep it in the thoughts of our hearts, 
and prepare our hearts unto thee," i Chron. 
xxix. 13. Our hearts are of themselves very 
loose and unsettled, " Lord, unite our hearts 
unto thee to fear thy name," Ps. Ixxxvi. 1 1 ; or 
else, without him, our best purposes will fall to 
the ground. It is a pleasing request, out of love 
to God, to beg such a frame of soul from him, 
wherein he may take delight ; and, therefore, in 
the use of all the means we must send up our 
desires and complaints to heaven to him for 

142 The Bruised Reed 

strength and help, and then we may be sure that 
"he will bring forth judgment unto victory." 

7. Lastly, it furthers the state of the soul, to 
know what frame it should be in, that 'so we may 
order our souls accordingly. We should always 
be fit for communion with God, and be heavenly- 
minded in earthly business, and be willing to be 
taken off from them, to redeem time for better 
things. We should be ready at all times to 
depart hence, and to live in such a condition as 
we would be content to die in. We should have 
hearts prepared for every good duty, open to all 
good occasions, and shut to all temptations, 
keeping our watch, and being always ready 
armed. So far as we come short of these things, 
so far we have just cause to be humbled, and 
yet press forward, that we may gain more 
upon ourselves, and make these things more 
familiar and lovely unto us ; and when we find 
our souls anyways falling downwards, it is best 
to raise them up presently by some waking 
meditations, as of the presence of God, of the 
strict reckoning we are to make, of the infinite 
love of God in Christ, and the fruits of it, of the 
excellency of a Christian's calling, of the short 
and uncertain time of this life ; how little good 
all those things that steal away our hearts will 

and Smoking Flax. 


do us ere long, and how it shall be for ever with 
us thereafter, as we spend this little time well or 
ill, etc. The more we give way for such con- 
siderations to sink into our hearts, the more we 
shall rise nearer to that state of soul which we 
shall enjoy in heaven. When we grow regardless 
of keeping our souls, then God recovers our taste 
of good things again by sharp crosses. Thus 
David, Solomon, Samson, etc., were recovered. 
It is much easier kept than recovered. 

Object, But, notwithstanding my striving, I 
seem to stand at a stay. 

Arts, I. Grace, as the seed in the parable, 
grows, we know not how, yet at length, when 
God seeth fittest, we shall see that all our endea- 
vour hath not been in vain. The tree falleth 
upon the last stroke, yet all the former strokes 
help it forward. 

Ans, 2. Sometimes victoryis suspended because 
some Achan is not found out. Judges xx. 26 ; or 
because we are not humble enough, as Israel had 
the worst against the Benjamites till they fasted 
and prayed ; or because we betray our helps, and 
stand not upon our guard, and yield not pre- 
sently to the motions of the Spirit, which mindeth 
us always of the best things, if we would regard 
it. Our own consciences will tell us, if we give 

144 ^^ Bruised Reed 

them leave to speak, that some sinful favouring 
of ourselves is the cause. The way in this case 
to prevail is, i, To get the victory over the pride 
of our own nature, by taking shame to ourselves, 
in humble confession to God ; and then, 2, To 
overcome the unbelief of our hearts, by yielding 
to the promise of pardon ; and then, 3, In con- 
fidence of Christ's assistance, to set ourselves 
against those sins which have prevailed over us ; 
and then prevailing over ourselves, we shall easily 
prevail over all our enemies, and conquer all con- 
ditions we shall be brought into. 

Chap. XXIV.— ^// should side with Christ. 

Use 2. If Christ will have the victory, then it 
is the best way for nations and states to '* kiss 
the Son," Ps. ii. 12, and to embrace Christ and 
his religion, to side with Christ, and to own his 
cause in the world. His side will prove the 
stronger side at last. Happy are we if Christ 
honour us so much as to use our help '' to fight 
his battle against the mighty," Judges v. 23. 
True religion in a state is as the main pillar of a 
house, and staff of a tent that upholds all. 2. So 
for families, let Christ be the chief governor of 
the family ; and, 3. Let every one be as a house 

of Christ, to dwell familiarly in, and to rule, 
Where Christ is, all happiness mUs€ follow. If 
Christ goeth, all will go. Where Christ's govern- 
ment in his ordinances and his Spirit is, there all 
subordinate government will prosper. Religion 
inspireth life and grace into all other things ; all 
other virtues, without it they are but as a fair 
picture without a head. Where Christ's laws are 
written in the heart, there all other good laws are 
best obeyed. None despiise man's law but those 
thJEit despise Christ's first Nemo humanam autho- 
riiatem coniemnit^ nisi qui divinatn prius contemp- 
sit. Of all persons, a man guided by Christ is 
the best ; and of all creatures in the world, a man 
guided by will and affection, next the devil, is the 
worst. The happiness of weakier things stands 
in being ruled by stronger. It is best for a blind 
man to be guided by him that hath sight ; it is 
best for sheep, and such like shiftless creatures, 
to be guided by man ; and it is happiest for man 
to be guided by Christ, because his government 
is so victorious that it frees us from the Tear and 
danger of our greatest enemies, and tends to 
bring us to the greatest happiness that our nature 
is capable of. This should make us to joy when 
Christ reigneth in us. When " Solomon was 
crowned the people shouted," so that the " earth 

146 The Bruised Reed 

rang," i Kings i. 39, 4a Much more should we 
rejoice in Ctkrist our King. 

And likewise for those whose souls are dear 
unto us, our endeavour should be that Christ 
may reign in them also, that th^r may be bap- 
tised by Christ with this fire, Matt iiL 11, that 
these sparks may be kindled in them. Men 
labour to cherish the spirit and mettle, as they 
term it, of those they train up, because they think 
they will have use of it in the manifold affairs 
and troubles of this life. Oh, but let us cherish 
the sparks of grace in them ; for a natural spirit 
in great troubles will fail, but these sparks will 
make them conquerors over the greatest evils. 

Use 3. If Christ's judgment shall be victorious, 
then popery, being an opposite frame, set up by 
the wit of man to maintain stately idleness, must 
fall. And it is fallen already in the hearts of 
those upon whom Christ hath shined. It is a lie, 
and founded upon a lie, upon the infallible judg- 
ment of a man subject to sin and error. When 
that which is taken for a principle of truth be- 
comes a principle of error, the more relying upon 
it, the more danger. 

and Smoking Flax. 147 

Chap. XXV. — Chrisfs government shall be openly 


It IS not only %2hAy judgment shall be victorious^ 
but that Christ will bring it openly forth to victory. 
Whence we observe, that grace shall be glory, and 
run into the eyes of all. Now Christ doth con- 
quer, and hath his own ends, but it is in some 
sort invisibly. His enemies within and without 
us seem to have the better. But he will bring 
forth judgment unto victory, to the view of all. 
The wicked that now shut their eyes shall see it 
to their torment. It shall not be in the power 
of subtle men to see or not see what they would. 
Christ will have power over their hearts ; and as 
his wrath shall immediately seize upon their 
souls against their wills, so will he have power 
over the eyes of their souls, to see and know 
what will increase their misery. Grief shall be 
fastened to all their senses, and their senses to 

Then all the false glosses which they put upon 
things shall be wiped off. Men are desirous to 
have the reputation of good, and yet the sweet- 
ness of ill ; nothing so cordially opposed by them, 
as that truth which layeth them open to them- 
selves, and to the eyes of others, their chief care 

1 48 The Bruised Reed 

being how to daub with the world and their own 
consciences. But the time will come when they 
shall be driven out of this fools' paradise, and the 
more subtle their conveyance of things hath been, 
the more shall be their shame. Christ, whom 
God hath chosen to set forth the chief glory of 
his excellencies, is now veiled in regard of his 
body the church, but will come ere long to be 
glorious in his saints, 2 Thess. 1. 10, and not lose 
the clear manifestation of any of his attributes ; 
and will declare to all the world what he is, when 
there shall be no glory but that of Christ and his 
spouse. Those that are as smoking flax now 
shall then " shine as the sun in the firmament," 
Matt xiii. 43, and their "righteousness break 
forth as the noon-day," Ps. xxxvii. 6. 

The image of God in Adam had a command- 
ing majesty in it, so that all creatures reverenced 
him ; much more shall the image of God in the 
perfection of it command respect in all. Even 
now there is a secret awe put into the hearts of 
the greatest, towards those in whom they see any 
grace to shine, from whence it was that Herod 
feared John Baptist; but what will this be in 
their day of bringing forth, which is called " the 
day of the revelation of the sons of God ?" Rom. 
viii. 19. 

and Smoking Flax. 


There will be more glorious times when " the 
kingdoms of the earth shall be the Lord Jesu5 
Christ's," Rev. xi. 10, and he shall reign for ever ; 
then shall judgment and truth have its victory ; 
then Christ will plead his own cause ; truth shall 
no longer be called heresy and schism, nor heresy 
catholic doctrine ; wickedness shall no longer go 
masked and disguised ; goodness shall appear in 
its own lustre, and shine in its own beams ; 
things shall be what they are, " nothing is hidden 
but shall be laid open," Matt. x. 26; iniquity 
shall not be carried in a mystery any longer; 
deep dissemblers, that think to hide their counsels 
from the Lord, shall walk no longer invisible as 
in the clouds. As Christ will not quench the 
least spark kindled by himself, so will he damp 
the fairest blaze of goodly appearances which 
are not from above. 

Use, If this were believed, men would make 
more account of sincerity, which will only give 
us boldness, and not seek for covershames ; the 
confidence whereof, as it maketh men now more 
presumptuous, so it will expose them hereafter 
to the greater shame. 

If judgment shall be brought forth to victory, 
then those that have been ruled by their own 
deceitful hearts and a spirit of error, shall be 


The Bruised Reed 

brought forth to disgrace; that God that hath 
joined grace and truth with honour, hath joined 
sin and shame together at last ; all the wit and 
power of man can never be able to sever what 
God hath coupled. Truth and piety may be 
trampled upon for a time, but as the two wit- 
nesses, Rev. xi. II, after they were slain rose 
again, and stood upon their feet, so whatsoever 
is of God shall at length stand upon its own 
bottom. There shall be a resurrection not only of 
bodies but of credits. Can we think that he that 
threw the angels out of heaven will suffer dust 
and worm's meat to run a contrary course, and 
to carry it always so ? No ; as verily as Christ 
is " King of kings, and Lord of lords," Rev. xix. 
1 6, so will he dash all those pieces of earth 
" which rise up against him as a potter's vessel," 
Ps. ii. 9. Was there ever any fierce against God 
and prospered.? Job ix. 4, No; doubtless the 
rage of man shall turn to Christ's praise, Ps. 
Ixxvi. 10. What was said of Pharaoh shall be 
said of all heady enemies, who had rather lose 
their souls than their wills, that they are but 
raised up for Christ to get himself glory in their 

Let us, then, take heed that we follow not the 
ways of those men, whose ends we shall tremble 

at; there is not a more fearful judgment can 
befall the nature of man, than to be given up to 
a reprobate judgment of persons and things, 
because it cometh under a woe " to call ill good, 
and good ill," Isa, v, 20. 

How will they be laden with curses another 
day that abuse the judgment of others by 
sophistry and flattery, deceivers, and being de- 
ceived? 2 Tim. iii, 13. Then .the complaint of 
our first mother Eve will be taken up but fruit- 
lessly. Gen. xiii. 3 ; the serpent hath deceived 
me ; Satan in such and such hath deceived me ; 
sin hath deceived me; a foolish heart hath 
deceived me. It is one of the highest points of 
wisdom to consider upon what grounds we ven- 
ture our souls. Happy men will they be, who 
have by Christ's light a right judgment of things, 
and suffer that judgment to prevail over their 

The soul of most men is drowned in their 
senses, and carried away with weak opinions, 
raised from vulgar mistakes and shadows of 
things. And Satan is ready to enlarge the ima- 
gination of outward good and outward ill, and 
make it greater than it is, and spiritual things 
less, presenting them through false glasses. 
And so men, trusting in vanity, vanquish them- 

152 The Bruised Reed 

selves in their own apprehensions. A woful 
condition, when both we and that which we 
highly esteem shall vanish together, which will 
be as truly as Christ's judgment shall come to 
victory ; and in what measure the vain heart of 
man hath been enlarged, to conceive a greater 
good in things of this world than there is, by so 
much the soul shall be enlarged to be more 
sensible of misery when it sees its error. This 
is the difference betwixt a godly wise man and 
a deluded worldling; that which the one doth 
now judge to be vain, the other shall hereafter 
feel to be so when it is too late. But this is the 
vanity of our natures, that though we shun above 
all things to be deceived and mistaken in present 
things, yet in the greatest matters of all we are 
willingly ignorant and misled. 

Chap. XXVI. — Christ, alone advanceth this government. 

The fifth conclusion is, that this government 
}s set up and advanced by Christ alone ; he 
bringeth judgment to victory. We both fight 
and prevail " in flie power of his might," Eph. 
vi. 10; we overcome by the spirit obtained "by 
*• the blood of the Lamb," Rev*, xii. 11, 

It Is he alone that "teacheth our hands to war. 

and Smoking Flax. 153 

and fingers to fight," Ps. cxliv. i. Nature, as 
corrupted, favours its own being, and will main- 
tain itself against Christ's government. Nature, 
simply considered, cannot raise itself above 
itself to actions spiritual of a higher order and 
nature ; therefore the divine power of Christ is 
necessary to carry us above all our own strength, 
especially in duties wherein we meet with greater 
opposition; for there not only nature, will fail 
us, but ordinary grace, unless there be a stronger 
and a new supply. In taking up a burden that 
is weightier than ordinary, if there be not a 
greater proportion of strength than weight, the 
undertaker will lie under it ; so to every strong 
encounter there must be a new supply of 
strength, as in Peter, Matt. xxvi. 69, when he 
was assaulted with a stronger temptation, being 
not upheld and shored up with a mightier hand, 
notwithstanding former strength, foully fell. 
And being fallen, in our raisings up again it is 
Christ that must do the work, i. By removing; 
or, 2. Weakening; or 3. Suspending opposite 
hindrances ; 4. And by advancing the power of 
his grace in us^ to a further degree than we had 
before we fell ; therefore when we are fallen, 
and by falls have gotten a bruise, let us go to 
Christ presently to bind us up again. 

154 The Bruised Reed 

Use. Let us know, therefore, that it is deinger- 
ous to look for that from ourselves which we 
must have from Christ. Since the fall, all our 
strength lies in him, as Samson's in his hair, 
Judges xvi. 17; we are but subordinate agents, 
inoving as we are moved, and working as we 
are first wrought upon, free so far forth as we 
are freed, no wiser nor stronger than he makes 
us to be for the present in anything we under- 
take. It is his Spirit that actuates and en- 
liveneth, and applieth that knowledge and 
strength we have, or else it faileth and lieth as 
useless in us ; we work when we work upon a 
present strength ; therefore, dependent spirits 
are the wisest and the ablest. Nothing is 
stronger than humility, that goeth out of itself; 
or weaker than pride, that resteth upon its own 
bottom, Frustra nititur qui non innititur; and 
this should the rather be observed, because natu- 
rally we affect a kind of divinity, affectatio 
divinitatisy in sitting upon actions in the strength 
of our own parts ; whereas Christ saith, " With- 
out me you," apostles that are in a state of grace, 
" can do nothing," John xv. 5 : he doth not say 
you can do a little, but nothing. Of ourselves, 
how easily are we overcome! how weak to resist! 
we are as reeds shaken with every wind ; we 

and Smoking Flax. 


shake at the very noise and thought of poverty, 
disgrace, losses, etc.; we give in presently, we 
have no power over our eyes, tongues, thoughts, 
affections, but let sin pass in and out. How 
soon are we overcome of evil! whereas we should 
overcome evil with good. How many good 
purposes stick in the birth> and have no strength 
to come forth ! all -which shews how nothing we 
are without the Spirit of Christ. We see how 
weak the apostles themselves were, till they were 
endued with strength from above, Matt xxvi. 
69. Peter was blasted with the speech of a 
damsel, but after the Spirit of Christ fell upon 
them, the more they suffered, the more they 
were encouraged to suffer ; their comforts grew 
with their troubles; therefore in all, especially 
difficult encounters, let us lift up our hearts to 
Christ, who hath Spirit enough for us all, in all 
our exigencies, and say with good Jehoshaphat, 
" Lord, we know not what to do, but our eyes 
are towards thee," 2 Chron. xx. 12; the battle 
we fight IS thine, and the strength whereby we 
fight must be thine. If thou goest not out with 
us, we are sure to be foiled. Satan knows nothing 
can prevail against Christ, or those that rely 
upon his power ; therefore his study is, how to 
keep us in ourselves, and in the creature : but we 

156 The Bruised Reed 

must carry this always in our minds, that that 
which is begun in self-confidence will end in 

The nianner of Christ's bringing forth judg- 
ment to victory y is by letting us see a necessity of 
dependence upon him ; hence proceed those 
spiritual desertions wherein he often leaveth us 
to ourselves, both in regard of grace and com- 
fort, that we may know the spring-head of these 
to be out of ourselves. Hence it is that in the 
mount, that is, in extremities, God is most seen, 
Gen. xxii. 13. Hence it is that we are saved by 
the grace of faith, that carrieth us out of our- 
selves to rely upon another; and that .faith 
worketh best alone, when it hath least outward 
support. Hence it is, that we often fail in lesser 
conflicts, and stand out in greater, because in 
lessfer we rest more in ourselves, in greater we 
fly to the rock of our salvation, which is higher 
than we, Ps. Ixi. 2. Hence likewise it is, that 
we are stronger after foils, because hidden cor- 
ruption, undiscerned before, is now discovered, 
arid thence we are brought to make use of mercy 
pardoning, and power supporting. One main 
ground of this dispensation is, that we should 
know it is Christ that giveth both the will and 
the deed, and that as a voluntary work accord- 

and Smoking Flax. 157 

ing to his own good pleasure. And therefore 
we should " work out our salvation in a jealous 
fear and trembling," Phil. ii. 12, lesl by un- 
reverent and presumptuous walking, we give him 
cause to suspend his gracious influence, and to 
leave us to the darkness of our own heart. 

Those that are under Christ's government have 
the spirit of revelation, whereby they see and feel 
a divine power sweetly and strongly enabling 
them for to preserve faith when they feel the 
contrary, and hope in a state hopeless, and love to 
God under signs of his displeasure, and heavenly- 
mindedness in the midst of worldly affairs and 
allurements drawing a contrary way. They feel 
a power preserving patience, nay, joy in the 
midst of causes of mourning, inward peace in the 
midst of assaults. Whence is it that, when we 
are assaulted with temptation, and when com* 
passed with troubles, we have stood out, but from 
a secret strength upholding us.? To make so 
little grace so victorious over so great a mass of 
corruption, this requireth a spirit more than 
human ; this is as to preserve fire in the sea, 
and a part of heaven even as it were in hell. 
Here we know. where to have this power, and to 
whom to return the praise of it. And it is our 
happiness, that it is so safely hid in Christ for 

158 The Bruised Reed 

us, in one so near unto God and us. Since the 
fall, God will not trust us with our own salva- 
tion, but it is both purchased and kept by Christ 
for us, and we for it through faith, wrought by 
the power of God, and laying hold of the same : 
which power is gloriously set forth by St Paul, 
I. To be a great power ; 2. An exceeding power; 
3. A working and a mighty power ; 4. Such a 
power as was wrought in raising Christ from the 
dead, Eph. i. 19. That grace which is but a per- 
suasive offer, and in our pleasure to receive or 
refuse, is not that grace which brings us to 
heaven ; but God's people feel a powerful work of 
the Spirit, not only revealing unto us our misery, 
and deliverance through Christ, but emptying us 
of ourselves, as being redeemed from ourselves, 
and infusing new life into us, and after strength- 
ening us, and quickening of us when we droop 
and hang the wing, and never leaving us till 
perfect conquest. 

Chap. XXVII. — Victory not to be had without fighting. 

The sixth conclusion is, that this prevailing 
government shall not be without fighting. There 
can no be no victory where there is no combat 
In Isaiah it is said, " He shall bring judgment in 

and Smoking Flax. 


truth," Isa. xliL 3 ; here it is said, he shall send 
forth judgment unto victory. The word " send 
forth" hath a stronger sense in the original, to 
send forth with force ; to shew, that where his 
government is in truth, it will be opposed, until 
he getteth the upper hand. Nothing is so opposed 
as Christ and his government, both within us 
and without us. And within us most in our 
conversion, though corruption prevails not so far 
as to make void the powerful work of grace; yet 
there is not only a possibility of opposing, but a 
proneness to oppose ; and not only a proneness, 
but an actual withstanding the working of Christ's 
Spirit, and that in every action ; but yet no pre- 
vailing resistance so far as to make void the work 
of grace, but corruption in the issue yields to grace. 
There is much ado to bring Christ into the 
heart, and to set a tribunal for him to judge 
there; there is an army of lusts in mutiny against 
him. The utmost strength of most men's endea- 
vours and parts is to keep Christ from ruling in 
the soul ; the flesh still laboureth to maintain its 
own regency, and therefore it cries down the 
credit of whatsoever crosseth it, as God's blessed 
ordinances, etc., and highly prizeth anything, 
though never so dead and empty, if it give way 
to the liberty of the flesh. 

1 60 The Bruised Reed 

And no marvel if the spiritual, government of 
Christ be so opposed : i. Because it is govern- 
ment, and that limits the course of the will, and 
casteth a bridle upon its wanderings; everything 
natural resists what opposeth it ; so. corrupt will 
labours to bear down all laws, and counteth it a 
generous thing not to. be awed, and an argument 
of a low spirit to fear any, even God himself, 
until unavoidable danger seizeth on men, and 
then those that feared least out of danger fear 
most in danger, as we see in Belshazzar, Dan. 
V. 6. 

2. It is spiritual government, and therefore the 
less will flesh endure it Christ's government 
bringeth the very thoughts and desires, which 
are the most immediate and free issue of the 
soul, into obedience. Though a man were of so 
composed a carriage, that his whole life were free 
from outward offensive breaches, yet with Christ 
to be "carnally or worldly minded is death," 
Rom. viii. 6 : he looketh on a worldly mind 
with a greater detestation than any one parti- 
cular offence. 

But Christ's spirit is in those who are in some 
4egree earthly minded. 

Truth it is, but not as an allower and main- 
tainer, but as an opposer, subduer, and^n the end 

and Smoking Flax. 1 6 1 

as a conqueror. Carnal men would fain bring 
Christ and the flesh together, and could be con- 
tent with some reservation to submit to Christ ; 
but Christ will be no underling to any base affec- 
tion ; and therefore, where there is allowance .of 
ourselves in any sinful lust, it is a sign the keys 
were never given up to Christ to rule us. 

3. Again, this judgment is opposed, because it 
is judgment, and men love not to be judged and 
censured. Now Christ, in his truth, arraigneth 
them, giveth sentence against them, and bindeth 
them over to the latter judgment of the great 
day. And therefore they take upon them to 
judge that truth that must judge them ; but 
truth will be too good for them. Man hath a 
day now, which St. Paul calls "man's day," i 
Cor. iv. 33, wherein he getteth upoii his bench, 
and usurpeth a judgment over Christ and his 
ways ; but God hath a day wherein he will set 
all straight, and his judgment shall stand. And 
the saints shall have their time, when they shall 
sit in judgment upon them that judge them now, 
I C6r. vi. 2; In the meantime, Christ will rule 
in the midst of his enemies, Ps. ex. 3, even in the 
midst of our hearts. 

Use, It is, therefore, no sign of a good con- 
dition to find all quiet, and nothing at odds ; for 


1 62 The Bruised Reed 

can we think that corruption, which is the elder 
in us, and Satan, the strong man, that keepeth 
many holds in us, will yield possession quietly ? 
No ; there is not so much as a thought of good- 
ness discovered by him, but he joineth with 
corruption to kill it in the birth. And as 
Pharaoh's cruelty was especially against the 
male children, so Satan's malice is especially 
against the most religious and manly resolutions. 

This, then, we are always to expect, that 
wheresoever Christ cometh, there will be opposi- 
tion. When Christ was bom all Jerusalem was 
troubled; so when Christ is bom in any man, 
the soul is in an uproar, and all because the heart 
is unwilling to yield up itself to Christ to mle it. 

Wheresoever Christ cometh he breedeth divi- 
sion, not only, i, between man and himself; but, 
2, between man and man ; and, 3, between church 
and church : of which disturbance Christ is no 
more the cause than physic is of trouble in a dis- 
tempered body, of which noisome humours are 
the proper cause ; for the end of physic is the 
peace of humours. But Christ thinketh it fit 
that the thoughts of men's hearts should be dis- 
covered, and he is as well for the falling as the 
rising of many in Israel, Luke ii. 34, 

Thus the desperate madness of men is laid 

open, that they had rather be under the guidance 
of their own lusts, and by consequence of Satan 
himself, to their endless destruction, than put 
their feet into Christ's fetters, and their necks 
under his yoke ; whereas, indeed, Christ's service 
is the only true liberty. His yoke is an easy 
yoke, his burden but as the burden of wings to 
a bird, that maketh her fly the higher. Satan's 
government is rather a bondage than a govern- 
ment, unto which Christ giveth up those that 
shake off his own, for then he giveth Satan and 
his factors power over them, since they will not 
" receive the truth in love," 2 Thess. ii. 20 : take 
him, Jesuit, take him, Satan, blind him and bind 
him and lead him to perdition. Those that take 
the most liberty to sin are the most perfect 
slaves, because most voluntary slaves. The will 
in everything is either the best or the worst ; the 
further men go on ip a wilful course, the deeper 
they sink in rebellion ; and the more they cross 
Christ, doing what they will, the more they shall 
one day suffer what they would not. In the 
meantime, they are prisoners in their own souls, 
bound over in their consciences to the judg- 
ment of him after death, whose judgment they 
would none of in their lives. And is it not equal 
that they should feel him a severe judge to con- 


164 The Brmised Reed 

demn them, wfaom they would not have a mfld 
judge to rule diem ? 

Chap. XXV HI. — Bt auouraged to go on duerfuMy, 
with ionfidetux cf frevaUti^^ 

For conduskm and general application of all 
that hath been spoken, unto ourselves. Wc see 
the conflicting, bat jret sore and hopeful state of 
God's people. The victory lieth not upcMi ns, 
bat upon Christ, who hath taken upon him, as 
to conquer for us, so to conquer in us. The 
victory lieth neither in our own strength to get, 
nor in our enemies to defeat iL If it lay upon 
us, we might justly fear. But Christ will main- 
tain his own government in us, and take our part 
against our corruptions ; they are his enemies as 
well as ours. " Let us therefore be strong in the 
Lord, and in the power of his might," Eph. vi. 10; 
let us not look so much who are our enemies, as 
who is our judge and captain, nor what they 
threaten, but what he promiseth. We have more 
for us than against us. What coward would not 
fight when he is sure of victory ? None are here 
overcome, but he that will not fight Therefore, 
when any base fainting seizeth upon us, let us 
lay the blame where it is to be laid. 

and Smoking Flax. 


Discouragement rising from unbelief and ill 
report, brought upon the good land by the spies, 
moved God to swear in his wrath, that they 
should not enter into his rest. Let us take hesed 
a spirit of faint-heartedness, rising from seeming 
difficulty and disgrace, cast upon God's gopd 
ways, provoke not God to keep us out of heaven. 
We see here what we may look for from heaven, 
O beloved, it is a comfortable thing to conceive 
of Christ aright, to know what love, mercy, 
strength, we have laid up for us in the breast of 
Christ. A good conceit of the physician, we say, 
is half the cure ; let us make use of this his mercy 
and power every day, in our daily combats. 
Lord Jesus, thou hast promised not to quench 
the smoking flax, not to break the bruised reed ; 
cherish thine own grace in me, leave me not to 
myself, the glory shall be thine. Let. us not 
suffer Satan to transform Christ unto us, to be 
otherwise than he is to those that are his. Christ 
will not leave us, till he hath made us like him- 
self, " all- glorious within and without, and pre- 
senteth us blameless before hi^ Father," Jude 24, 
What a comfort is this in our conflicts with our un- 
ruly hearts, that it shall not always be thus ! Let 
us strive a little while, and we shall be happy for 
ever. Let us think when we are troubled with 

1 66 The Bruised Reed 

our sins^ that Christ hath this in charge of his 
Father, " that he shall not quench the smoking 
flax," until he hath subdued all. This putteth a 
shield into our hands to beat back all " the fiery 
darts of Satan," Eph. vi. i6. He will object, 
(!•) thou art a great sinner; we may answer, 
Christ is a strong Saviour; but he will object, 
(2.) thou hast no faith, no love ; yes, a spark of 
faith and love ; but (3.) Christ will not regard 
that; yes, "he will not quench the smoking 
flax ; " but (4.) this is so little and weak, that it 
will vanish and come to nought : nay, but Christ 
will cherish it, until he hath brought judgment 
to victory. And thus much for our comfort we 
have already, that even when we first believed, 
we overcame God himself, as it were, by believ- 
ing the pardon of all our sins ; notwithstanding 
the guilt of our own consciences, and his absolute 
justice. Now, having been prevailers with God, 
what shall stand against us if we can learn to 
make use of our faith ? 

Oh, what a confusion is this to Satan, that he 
should labour to blow out a poor spark, and yet 
should not be able to quench it ; that a grain of 
mustard seed should be stronger than the gates 
of hell ; that it should be able to remove moun- 
tains of oppositions and temptations cast up by 

and Smoking Flax. 


Satan and our rebellious hearts between God 
and us. Abimelech could not endure that it 
should be said " a woman had slain him," Judges 
ix. 54 ; and it must needs be a torment to Satan, 
that a weak child, a woman, and decrepit old 
man should, by a spirit of faith, put him to 

Since there is such comfort where there is a 
little truth of grace, that it will be so victorious, 
let us oft try what God hath wrought in us, 
search our good as well as our ill, and be thank- 
ful to God for the least measure of grace, more 
than for any outward thing ; it will be of more 
use and comfort than all this world, which 
passeth away and cometh to nothing. Yea, let 
us be thankful for that promised and assured 
victory, which we may rely on without presump- 
tion, as St. Paul doth ; " thanks be to God, that 
hath given us victory in Jesus Christ," i Cor. xv* 
57. See a flame in a spark, a tree in a seed ; 
see great things in little beginnings ; look not 
so much to the beginning, as to the perfection, 
and so we shall be in some degree joyful in 
ourselves, and thankful unto Christ. 

Neither must we reason from a denial of a 
great measure of grace, to a denial of any at all 
in us ; for faith and grace stand not in an in- 

1 68 

The Bruised Reed 

divisible pointy so as he that hath not such and 
such a measure hath none at all ; but as there 
is a great breadth between a spark and a flame, 
so there is a great wideness between the least 
measure of grace and the greatest ; and he that 
hath the least measure, is within the compass of 
God's eternal favour ; though he be not a shin- 
ing light, yet he is a smoking wick, which 
Christ's tender care will not suffer him to 

And let all this that hath been spoken allure 
those that are not yet in state of grace, to come 
under Christ's sweet and victorious government, 
for though we shall have much opposition, yet 
if we strive, he will help us ; if we fail, he will 
cherish us; if we be guided by him, we shall 
overcome ; if we overcome, we are sure to be 
crowned. And for the present state of the 
church, we see now how forlorn it is, yet let us 
comfort ourselves, that Christ's cause shall pre- 
vail ; " Christ will rule, till he hath made his 
enemies his footstool," Ps. ex. i, not only to 
trample upon, but to help him up to mount 
higher in glory, " Babylon shall fall, for strong 
is the Lord who hath condemned her," Rev. 
xviii. 8. Christ's judgment not only in his chil- 
dren, but also against his enemies, shall be 

and Smoking Flax. 


victorious, for he is " King of kings iand Lord of 
lords," Rev. xix. i. God will not always suffer 
antichrist and his supports to revel and ruffle in 
the church as they do. 

If we look to the present state of the church 
of Christ, it is as Daniel in the midst of lions, as 
a lily amongst thorns, as a ship not only tossed, 
but almost covered with waves. It is so low, 
that the enemies think they have buried Christ, 
in regard of his gospel, in the grave, and there 
they think to keep him from rising; but Christ 
as he rose in his person, so he will roll away all 
stones, and rise again in his church. How little 
support hath the church and cause of Christ at 
this day ! how strong a conspiracy is against it ! 
the spirit of antichrist is now lifted up, and 
marcheth furiously; things seem to hang on a 
small and invisible thread. But our comfort is, 
that Christ liveth and reigneth and standeth on 
Mount Sion in defence of them that stand for 
him, Rev. xiv. i ; and when states and kindgoms 
shall dash one against another, Christ will have 
care of his own children and cause, seeing there 
is nothing else in the world that he much 
esteemeth. At this very time the delivery of 
his church, and the ruin of his enemies, is in 
working ; we see no things in motion till Christ 


The Bruised Reed 

hath done his work, and then we shall see that 
the Lord reigneth. 

Christ and his church, when they are at the 
lowest, are nearest rising: his enemies at the 
highest are nearest a downfall. 

The Jews are not yet come in under Christ's 
banner; but God, that hath persuaded Japhet 
to come into the tents of Shem, will persuade 
Shem to come into the tents of Japhet, Gen. ix. 
27. The "fulness of the Gentiles is not yet 
come in," Rom. xi. 25, but Christ, that hath the 
"utmost parts of the earth given him for his 
possession," Ps. ii. 8, will gather all the sheep 
his Father hath given him into one fold, that 
there may be one sheepfold, and one Shepherd, 
John X. 16. 

The faithful Jews rejoiced to think of the call- 
ing of the Gentiles ; and why should not we joy 
to think of the calling of the Jews ? 

The gospel's course hath hitherto been as that 
of the sun, from east to west, and so in God's 
time may proceed yet further west. No creature 
can hinder the course of the sun, nor stop the 
influence of heaven, nor hinder the blowing of 
the wind, much less hinder the prevailing power 
of divine truth, until Christ hath brought all 
under one head, and then he will present all to 

and Smoking Flax. 171 


his Father ; these are they thou hast given unto 
me ; these are they that have taken me for their 
Lord and King, that have suffered with me ; my 
will is that they be where I am, and reign with 
me. And then he will deliver up the kingdom 
even to his Father, and put down all other rule, 
and authority, and power, i Cor. xv. 24. 

Let us then bring our hearts to holy resolutions, 
and set ourselves upon that which is good, and 
against that which is ill, in ourselves or others, 
according to our callings, upon this encourage- 
ment, that Christ's grace and power shall go 
along with us. What had become of that great 
work of reformation of religion in the latter- 
spring of the gospel, if men had not been armed 
with invincible courage to outstride all lets, upon 
this faith, that the cause was Christ's, and that 
he would not be wanting to his own cause. 
Luther ingenuously confessed, that he carried 
matters often inconsiderately, and with mixture 
of passion ; but upon acknowledgment, God took 
not advantage of his errors, but the cause being 
God's, and his aims being holy, to promote the 
truth, and being a mighty man in prayer, and 
strong in faith, God by him kindled that fire 
which all the world shall never be able to quench. 
According to our faith, so is our encouragement 

1 72 The Bruised Reed 

to all duties, therefore let us strengthen faith, 
that it may strengthen all other graces. This 
very belief, that faith shall be victorious, is a 
means to make it so indeed. Believe it, there- 
fore, that though it be often as smoking flax, yet 
it shall prevail. If it prevail with God himself 
in trials, shall it not prevail over all other 
opposition ? " Let us wait awhile, and we shall 
see the salvation of the Lord," Exod. iv. 13. 

The Lord reveal hinlself more and more unto 
us in the face of his Son Jesus Christ, and 
magnify the power of his grace in cherishing 
those b^nnings of grace in the midst of our 
corruptions, and sanctify the consideration of 
our own infirmities to humble us, and of his 
tender mercy to encourage us ; and persuade us, 
that since he hath taken us into the covenant of 
grace, he will not cast us off for those corrup- 
tions; which as they grieve his Spirit, so they 
make us vile in our own eyes. And because 
Satan labours to obscure the glory of his mercy, 
and hinder our comfort by discouragements, the 
Lord add this to the rest of his mercies, that, 
since he is so gracious to those that yield to his 
government, we may make the right use of this 
grace, and not lose any portion of comfort that 
is laid up for us in Christ And may he vouch- 

and Smoking Flax. 


safe to let the prevailing power of his Spirit in 
us be an evidence of the truth of grace begun, 
and a pledge of final victory, at that time when 
he will be all in all, in all his, for all eternity. 

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